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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cohorts Hunted Across the City

As investigators tried to piece together how the theater was seized, the police were combing the city Monday for accomplices thought to have provided the hostage-takers with shelter, cars and guns.

"We have grounds to believe that a terrorist network exists in the Moscow area, and our main task is to neutralize it," the Interior Ministry said in a statement shortly after the hostage standoff ended Saturday.

Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev warned on Saturday that accomplices in Moscow were preparing for new attacks.

Later that day, Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasilyev told reporters that more than 30 suspected accomplices had been detained.

That number had shrunk to two on Monday afternoon, said a spokeswoman for the Moscow prosecutor's office.

However, the citywide search continued, with officials taking a close look at foreign embassies that might have assisted the hostage-takers, said Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Kremlin's spokesman on Chechnya.

He said the attackers made several telephone calls to embassies in Moscow during the siege and that the calls had been intercepted.

"These conversations will be thoroughly analyzed," he said Monday, according to Interfax. He did not elaborate.

News agencies, citing the FSB, reported earlier that they also placed calls to foreign countries.

In an admission that they had found shelter in the city, the hostage-takers told NTV television on Friday that they had been watching the theater for two months in preparation for the attack.

As shown in television footage after Saturday's raid, the hostage-takers had an impressive arsenal of guns and explosives. Law enforcement officials said the Chechens probably secured much of the stockpile in Moscow and stored it well before the siege in a cafe that was undergoing reconstruction adjacent to the theater.

They also had at least two cars and a minivan at their disposal in Moscow, according to media reports.

"What is certain is that the perpetrators of the hostage-taking in Moscow used a dormant network in the Russian capital," Roland Jacquard, the head of the Paris-based International Observatory on Terrorism, told Agence France Presse on Monday. "It is an operation that had been prepared in advance."

Oleg Nechiporenko, a former KGB general and the head of the nongovernmental National Anti-Criminal and Anti-Terrorist Foundation, said the hostage-takers had been well-trained before the attack.

"One could see that the terrorists demonstrated multidisciplinary training, including such sophisticated psychological techniques as inducing the Stockholm syndrome," he said.

Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov on Saturday ordered an investigation of how the attackers got into Moscow and a search for accomplices who provided transportation, housing and arms storage facilities.

Three hostage-takers seized in the theater Saturday -- two women and a man -- were being questioned Monday, as was a fourth suspected hostage-taker detained Sunday in a hospital, according to media reports.

The suspect, a woman, was knocked out by the gas in the theater and delivered with hostages to Hospital No. 13. She behaved oddly after regaining consciousness and was taken away by investigators, according to the reports.

"Investigators are continuing to check the hostages in the hospitals because terrorists could be hiding among them," the prosecutor's office spokeswoman said.

She would not comment about the woman nor about reports Monday that 10 to 15 hostage-takers were being sought after managing to flee the theater. The police and Federal Security Service also refused to comment on the reports.

The reports said the police knew the identities of the missing hostage-takers.

A spokeswoman at one Moscow police station said her precinct has not been sent the names or descriptions of any missing hostage-takers.

However, the pro-Moscow police force in Chechnya said they had received the information.

"We received the paperwork from our Moscow colleagues and, together with our best specialists, are pouring over them," Chechnya's police chief, Said-Selim Peshkhoyev, told Interfax on Sunday.

He said his police force would try to establish who helped the Chechens prepare for the attack and where the group trained and assembled the explosive devices before going to Moscow.

The investigation into the theater siege and the prevention of further attacks will depend heavily on the work of informers, said Sergei Goncharov, a member of the Moscow City Duma and a former commander in the elite KGB Alpha forces.

"To find the accomplices of the terrorists, we need agents, agents and once again agents, especially among Chechen rebels," he said by telephone Monday.

He said it is difficult to recruit Chechen informers because of their close-knit relations.

"But, like everybody, they respect force and love money," he said.

Investigators detained three suspected informers working for the hostage-takers in the crowd of onlookers that gathered around the theater, Moskovsky Komsomolets said Monday, citing an unnamed FSB officer who participated in the storming operation.

A police officer has been detained on suspicion of updating the hostage-takers on developments outside the theater by cellphone, Izvestia reported Monday.

Prosecutors denied the report.

The ball-bearing plant that owns the theater has offered a reward of 1 million rubles ($30,000) for information leading to the capture of accomplices.