By Ruzanna Khachatrian
President Robert Kocharian has written to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, condemning the ongoing standoff around a Moscow theater where an estimated 50 Chechen gunmen are holding hostage hundreds of spectators.
Kocharian expressed his “indignation” at the brazen hostage-taking, which he said is a challenge against the entire international community. He called for “joint efforts” to combat international terrorism.
“Armenia is following the developments with a great deal of concern and hopes that this situation will find a quick solution and the hostages will return to their families and loved ones,” his message reads.
The unprecedented raid was also denounced by leaders of the Armenian parliament factions. Most of them had themselves been held hostage by five gunmen for 18 hours following the shock attack on the National Assembly three years ago.
According to Itar-Tass news agency, Armenian nationals are among 62 foreigners held in the theater along with some 700 Russians. No other details were available.
Reports from Moscow said the heavily armed Chechens shot and killed a 20-year-old woman and fired two rocket-propelled grenades at two girls who managed to flee the building late on Thursday. The hostage-takers are demanding withdrawal of Russian troops from separatist Chechnya. Attempts to negotiate a peaceful end to the standoff have so far failed.