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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Thirteen Hostages Held Two Days Inside Moscow Theater Freed

Aired October 25, 2002 - 09:43   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN ANCHOR: Thirteen hostages were held two days inside a Moscow theater were freed today by their Chechen rebel captors. But the fate of hundreds more remaining inside the theater remains unclear. Rebels say they'll kill everyone inside, unless Russia ends its occupation of Chechnya. CNN's Matthew Chance is in Moscow.
Matthew, was there any indication of how the people still held inside the theater are doing? Do they have food? Are they sick? How are they?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, inevitably, the situation inside the theater is deteriorating for the many hundreds of people, perhaps as many as six or 700 people, that are still being held captive there, against their will, by these Chechen rebels who are demanding that Russia puts an end to its military activity in the break-away Republic of Chechnya as a sort of tradeoff for sparing the lives of these individuals.

There have been images coming to us from inside the theater itself. It seems that a local television journalist was permitted by the rebels to go inside, accompanying a doctor to provide some medical attention to some of the hostages. He came -- brought back some quite vivid images, images of rebel gunmen with weapons, of course, some of them with explosive materials -- all of them with their faces covered.

Also, some indication, some images of members of that captive audience who are being made to stay in their seats, in some instances, looking deeply concerned, as they well should be, about their predicament.

Tucker.

CARLSON: I know some of the captives pled with the Russian government not to attempt to storm the theater by force because the rebels had threatened to blow it up. Is there any indication what the Russian government plans to do?

CHANCE: Well, we've had some quotes coming through to us on the Russian Interfax news agency from a top security official here in Moscow, saying that they now are actively considering the possibility of using what they call adequate action to bring to an end this hostage crisis. That coming to us from Sergae Ignachinkow (ph), is the -- one of the top spokespeople for the federal security services. He said that he has information that the hostages -- rather, the hostage takers are threatening to kill their captives if their demand is not met. That demand, again, to bring to an end the military action in Chechnya, something Russia says it won't do.

CARLSON: OK. Adequate action and we look forward to finding out what that euphemism means. Matthew Chance in Moscow, thanks very much.

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