One hostage is dead and two others have escaped, as the tense standoff in a Moscow theater between Chechen rebels and police shows no signs of coming to an end.
Police say the gunmen shot and killed one woman as she tried to escape sometime Wednesday. They also say the gunmen fired grenades at two other women who jumped from a second floor window Thursday. They escaped unharmed.
About 40 members of a Chechen suicide squad stormed the theater Wednesday night during a show and seized at least 700 audience members hostage. They are demanding and end to the war in Chechnya and the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops.
The rebels have explosives strapped to their bodies and threaten to blow up the theater and kill the hostages if police storm the building.
They have already freed children and most non-Russian hostages, including Muslims, along with several others who needed immediate medical attention.
Several Russian lawmakers who oppose the war in Chechnya have tried negotiating with the gunmen with little success.
Russian security officials say about 75 foreigners are among the hostages, including Ukrainians, Germans, Azeris, Americans, and Britons.
A Jordanian doctor who was allowed into the theater Thursday night says many of the hostages need food and medicine. Some of the captives who spoke to relatives on cellular telephones report there is only water and chocolate in the building.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the operation was planned in what he calls a "foreign terrorist center." He says the gunmen are criminals who want to spread death and destruction beyond Chechnya.
Mr. Putin canceled trips to Germany, Portugal and the APEC summit in Mexico to deal with hostage crisis.