Russian forces storm a detention facility to rescue staff taken hostage, killing hostage-takers

Russian policemen, Rosguardia servicemen and medical cars gather not far from a pretrial detention center in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Sunday, June 16, 2024. Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service says inmates at a pretrial detention center in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don have taken two employees hostage. (AP Photo)
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Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — Security forces stormed a detention center in southern Russia on Sunday, killing inmates accused of links to the Islamic State group who had taken two staff members hostage, state-funded news channel RT reported.

Journalists on the scene reported the sounds of gunfire, while multiple ambulances were seen arriving at the prison in footage on social media.

The hostages at the pretrial detention center in Rostov-on-Don were uninjured, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service said in a statement. It said that the hostage-takers had been “liquidated,” but didn’t comment further.

A number of local news outlets, including RT, reported that at least some of the prisoners had been killed.

Earlier, state news agency Tass, citing unnamed sources in law enforcement, had said that six hostage takers were in the central courtyard of the Rostov region’s Detention Center No. 1, armed with a penknife, a rubber baton and a fire ax. The prisoners include men accused of links to the Islamic State group, it said.

Images posted on social media appeared to show at least two of the hostage-takers wearing a headband that resembled the IS flag. Other images showed prisoners wielding knives.

Tass said that three of the hostage-takers had already been found guilty on several charges, including disseminating extremist information and plotting to blow up a Russian courthouse. One of the men was sentenced to 18½ years in prison, while the other two received 18 years, Tass reported, but said that the verdict hadn’t yet entered legal force.

IS has carried out a number of attacks on Russian soil in recent years. An affiliate of IS claimed responsibility for the most recent attack in March, when gunmen opened fire on a crowd at a concert hall in suburban Moscow, killing 145 people.