Magazine article The New American

The Beslan Horror

Magazine article The New American

The Beslan Horror

Article excerpt

More that 300 hostages died after terrorists seized a school in North Ossetia, Russia. The school in the town of Beslan was surrounded with land mines and high explosives. Children were kept in hot, unventilated rooms for more than two days, and deprived of food and water. Some were murdered by the terrorists. By the time Russian troops and security personnel ended the 53-hour siege, at least 326 people--half of them children--were dead.

Moscow immediately claimed that the murderous schoolhouse siege was the work of Chechen radicals aligned with al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda figures have been involved in the ongoing war between the Russian government and the breakaway province of Chechnya. Initial reports claimed that the hostage-takers included Chechens, residents of the neighboring province of Ingushetia, Arabs, Kazakhs and Slavs. However, Russian defense minister Sergei Ivanov has said that not a single Chechen has been found among the 32 dead terrorists. Officials in Beslan reported finding notebooks with Arabic writing, and some eyewitnesses claimed to have heard the terrorists speaking in Russian, punctuated by occasional expressions in Arabic.

In any case, Russian general Yuri Baluyevsky claimed that Russia had the right to attack terrorist bases "anywhere in the world." The Russian population, however, had reservations about the official line.

"Public opinion polls have shown people have little faith in the ability of the police and FSB security service [the renamed KGB] to protect them and accuse them of being corrupt and unprofessional," noted a September 10 Reuters report from Moscow. …

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