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Hostage crises in public places

Last updated on: August 24, 2010 18:13 IST

The Moscow theatre crisis

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Monday's bus hostage crisis in Manila was the most recent of hostage situations that have occurred in public places.

October 23, 2002. Forty Chechen terrorists seize a Moscow theatre, hold over 700 theatre-goers hostage and demand the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya.

After two-and-a-half days, Russian security forces raid the building and pass gas through the ventilation system.

39 terrorists are killed, along with about 120 hostages.

The Russian government's decision to use gas is widely condemned for causing hostage deaths.


Image: Russian special forces remove hostages from the besieged theatre
Photographs: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters
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The siege at the Golden Temple

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In May 1984, Sikh separatists lead by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale take control of the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine.

The separatists want an independent Sikh nation called Khalistan.

Hundreds of pilgrims inside the shrine are unwittingly held hostage as the Indian Army storms the Golden Temple on the night of June 5.

By the time the bloody battle ends two days later --Bhindranwale's troops are led by retired general Shubegh Singh, ironically a hero of the 1971 war against Pakistan -- and the army takes full control of the shrine, nearly 500 people are dead. The unofficial toll is much higher.

Indira Gandhi's government comes under immense criticism for launching the military assault on the Golden Temple, much of which lies damaged.

Four months later, Indira Gandhi is dead, gunned down by her Sikh bodyguards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh.


Image: Activists during a rally to mark the 25th anniversary of Operation Blue Star
Photographs: Munish Sharma/Reuters
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The Brazil bus hostage crisis

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In 2000, Sandro Rosa do Nascimento, a 22-year-old street criminal, boards a public bus in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro to rob the passengers.

The incident quickly develops into a hostage situation, broadcast live by Brazilian television channels, and picked up by television stations the world over.

A few hours later, Nascimento is dead and so is a hostage, a school teacher who he uses as a human shield when he tries to leave the bus.

The hostage crisis later becomes the subject of an acclaimed documentary, Bus 174.


Image: The hijack of Bus 174 in Rio
Photographs: Reuters
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The Beslan school siege

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Soon after children arrive at school after their summer holidays in the Russian town of Beslan on September 1, Chechen terrorists take almost 1,100 people hostage.

The terrorists want President Vladmir Putin to end the second Chechen war before they release the hostages.

Unbelievable scenes of human agony unfold during the many hours of the terrifying siege in the town located in north Ossentia bordering Chechnya.

On the third day of the siege, September 3, Russian commandos storm the school building.

The special forces kill all but one of the 32 terrorists. 303 others are dead, including 186 children. 700 people are injured.

Though some children escape from the building as the troops move in, many bodies are found charred beyond recognition after the siege. Parents have to wait for DNA tests to confirm the fate of their children.


Image: A woman grieves at the wall filled with photographs of the siege victims
Photographs: Eduard Korniyenko/Reuters
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The Mumbai terror attacks

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Ten armed Pakistani men attack prominent locations in Mumbai on the night of November 26, 2008, and lay siege at the Taj and Oberoi hotels and the Jewish Chabad House, all in south Mumbai.

By the time the siege ends at the Taj hotel on the morning of November 29, 174 people are dead, including 9 terrorists.

Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive by the Mumbai police early on November 27, is given the death sentence in May. Two commandos and 16 policemen die fighting the terrorists.

26/11 remains India's worst hostage crisis.


Image: A commando during the Taj operation to flush out the terrorists

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The Manila bus hostage crisis

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A tourist bus in Manila with 25 people, mostly from Hong Kong, on board is hijacked by disgruntled former police officer Rolando Mendoza.

A decorated policeman, Mendoza has been dismissed from service for extortion and drug-related crimes and demands reinstatement in the police force.

As night falls on August 23, 2010, eight hostages (two later die in hospital) and Mendoza are dead.

Mendonza is said to have killed the hostages after which police stormed the bus and shot him in the head. No one knows the truth just yet.


Image: Philippine commandos target the tourist bus
Photographs: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters
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