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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Seeks Probe of Theater Attack

ReutersDima Yendaltsev, a 13-year-old hostage, looking out of a hospital window Tuesday.
As the first hostages killed in the siege were buried Tuesday, lawmakers called for an investigation of how more than 50 armed rebels managed to seize a building near the city center.

President Vladimir Putin met with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and other top officials and ordered them to strengthen national security to counter terrorist threats. Putin also asked for more funds to fight terrorism.

After the meeting, Ivanov said Putin had asked for revisions to the national security concept in line with his decision Monday to give the military broader powers to fight suspected terrorists and their sponsors at home and abroad.

The Federation Council is to discuss a motion to increase counterterrorism financing by 7 billion rubles ($206 million) on Wednesday. Law enforcement agencies had been allotted 245 billion rubles in the draft 2003 budget, an increase from 173 billion rubles this year.

The State Duma on Tuesday debated whether to create a commission to investigate the security gaps that permitted the siege.

"A thorough parliamentary investigation is needed to find out how bandits who were armed to the teeth and carrying hundreds of kilograms of explosives could get into the center of Moscow unnoticed, seize a large theater and keep the entire country and the world on edge," Union of Right Forces leader Boris Nemtsov said late Monday.

Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov said Tuesday that dozens of suspects have been detained in a search for the hostage-takers' accomplices in Moscow.

"The police have launched an unprecedented drive to locate the terrorist network," he said on television. "Tens of people suspected of ties to the hostage-taking have been detained."

Late Tuesday, Moscow police detained 15 ethnic Chechens in a minivan with traces of TNT, news reports said. The minivan had Chechen license plates, Interfax reported.

The official death toll in the attack is 118 hostages and 50 hostage-takers. Gas poisoning has been blamed for the deaths of all but two of the hostages.

Moscow prosecutor Mikhail Avdyukov said Tuesday that at least three hostages and 41 of their captors had died of gunshot wounds, Interfax reported. He said two hostages were wounded by the attackers shortly before special forces stormed the theater and later died of their injuries. One woman, Olga Romanova, 26, was gunned down after walking into the theater Wednesday night.

Aslanbek Aslakhanov, Chechnya's Duma representative, said two Arabs and a non-Chechen citizen of Russia had been among the attackers.

Health officials said 338 hostages have been released from hospitals and 317 remain hospitalized, 27 in grave condition, Itar-Tass reported.

Of the dead, 108 bodies have been identified, officials said. The first funerals were held Tuesday, and more were planned for Wednesday and Thursday.

Meanwhile, the fate of the "Nord Ost" production appeared to be up in the air. "Even if the city government reconstructs [the theater], the place will remain cursed," the musical's producer, Georgy Vasilyev, told Ekho Moskvy radio. "It is hard to imagine our actors stepping on that stage and musicians going into an orchestra pit that was turned into a toilet."