Chechen rebels holding hundreds of people hostage in a Moscow theater have told Russian authorities they could begin killing their prisoners soon unless their demands are met
A source involved in negotiations told Russian media the rebels threatened to begin killing hostages if Russian troops did not begin withdrawing from the breakaway republic of Chechnya by Friday night, 10 o'clock, Moscow time.
There is no indication yet that the hostage-takers have begun making good on their threat. They had earlier threatened to begin killing hostages early Saturday.
The Russian government made a counter-offer, promising to save the lives of the rebels if the hostages are released unharmed. The rebels released 19 of the hostages during the day on Friday.
The group of heavily-armed Chechen men and women stormed the theater Wednesday. Their hostages include citizens of Britain, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and the United States.
The rebels have threatened to blow up the theater if police storm the building. The gunmen shot and killed one woman as she tried to escape on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the takeover operation was planned in what he calls a "foreign terrorist center."