From the testimony of former hostages interviewed by the Russian media, it seems virtually certain that the terrorists did have ample time to destroy many of the hostages before they themselves had been overcome by the gas or shot by the attacking special forces. Why did they not do so? As we have seen, most of the explosives in the building were „fakes“ or very weak bombs presenting a danger principally to the women terrorists wearing them. Even without detonating the bombs, however, the terrorists carried real automatic weapons and could easily have raked the hostages with automatic-weapon fire. They clearly chose, however, to let the hostages live. Even an Interior Ministry general who had been identified by the terrorists and had been separated from the other hostages was not killed (though his daughter died from the effects of the gas). Theater producer Vasilev has recalled: „When the shooting began, they [the terrorists] told us to lean forward in the theater seats and cover our heads behind the seats.“

—John B. Dunlop, The 2002 Dubrovka and 2004 Beslan Hostage Crises, (Stuttgart: ibidem, 2006), 148.

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