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June Today in Terrorism

June 14, 1995: Terrorists take thousands of hostages in Russia

On June 14, 1995 Chechen terrorists took thousands of hostages at a hospital in the southern Russian city of Budyonnovsk, eventually killing 129.

BUDYONNOVSK, RUSSIA – Terrorist groups target all kinds of venues for their acts of violence, but should some simply be untouchable?

There is an old saying ‘there is no honour among thieves’. This is usually taken to mean that those engaged in criminal activities cannot be trusted with what they say or do. In light of what these people are capable of that is probably sage advice.

But are there things that even the worst criminals won’t do? Are there limits beyond which they will not stray? Attacking children, say?

Alas no, for we are all aware of acts of serious violence committed against children as well. It does seem that there is no honour among criminals after all.

I does as I sees fit (Photo: studio tdes | CC BY)

The same applies to terrorists. We have seen catastrophic acts of violence against civilians such as 9/11 and countless others. But the one described today is particularly heinous.

Beginning on this day in 1995

Chechen terrorists took thousands of hostages at a hospital in the southern Russian city of Budyonnovsk after having stormed a police station and raised a Chechen flag at city hall. The lead terrorist Shamil Basayev, issued demands that Russia end what has become known as the First Chechen War. Then the killing started.

Several of the Chechens had just grabbed five hostages at random and shot them to show the world they were serious in their demands that Russian troops leave their land.

Chief doctor at the city hospital

After six hostages had been shot dead Russian forces decided to siege the building. By the end of the crisis 129 civilians were killed and 415 were injured. The terrorists were allowed safe passage back to Chechnya.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin was seen as weak for having given in to the terrorists‘ requests. The State Duma (parliament) voted overwhelmingly for a symbolic motion of non-confidence in the government and both the Interior and Security ministers resigned.

But still the terrorists could claim ‘victory’, even as they killed hospital patients. What ‘honour’ is there in that?

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Director of the National Security programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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