this is going on about 20 minutes drive from my house (i live in Moscow) About 20 Chechen gunmen have entered a Moscow theatre, firing into the air and holding the audience and actors hostage. The theatre was holding a performance of the most popular Russian musical Nord-Ost. Chechen separatists who contacted the BBC said the hostage-takers had planted explosives in the theatre and were led by a nephew of Chechen warload Arbi Barayev. They demanded immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, and said they were prepared to die for their cause. The gunmen initially allowed members of the audience - at the Palace of Culture, in the southwest of the city - to use mobile phones to tell people outside, but stopped them soon afterwards. Capacity crowd The number of people taken hostage is unknown, but the play is said to be very popular and always attracts a capacity crowd. BBC Moscow correspondent Nicholai Gorshkov says there is seating for about 500 people. Children and Muslim members of the audience are understood to have been released. Police teams rushed to the scene but there were no initial reports of casualties. The area has been sealed off and President Vladimir Putin is said to be watching the situation closely.