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Moscow Deserves Praise for the Hostages Saved

October 31, 2002

Re "Gas Killed 116 Moscow Hostages," Oct. 28: For two days The Times' coverage has emphasized the use of gas and the resultant deaths. Your coverage, had it been interested in the positive to any degree, should have emphasized how 646 or more hostages were saved by the actions of the Russian authorities.

It is clear that the terrorists intended to sacrifice themselves and the theater patrons. That has been demonstrated over and over again by terrorist groups all over the world and clearly was the only possible outcome in this case, due to the impossible demands of the terrorists and the generally acknowledged practice of not granting demands to terrorists, kidnappers and the like.

Any deaths are a tragedy but inevitable in such a situation. It is past time, in this day and age, to admit that fact rather than crucify those who acknowledge it or whose actions save the many but lose a few. If we support the need for a coordinated and worldwide effort to stop terrorism, we need to support those who take such steps. I believe the Russian authorities deserve praise for their actions. An analysis of the actions is appropriate, in an effort to improve the results; harsh criticism that does nothing positive is not.

Forrest Shattuck

Orange

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