Special Forces Shielded Children with Their Bodies

Relatives and neighbors of killed hostages attend the funeral ceremony in the town of Beslan in the province of North Ossetia, September 6, 2004. Flags flew at half-mast across Russia at the start of national mourning for 338 people killed by terrorists including, as reported, at least 9 Arabs and other nationalities.

Photo by Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters Photo

MOSCOW, September 6 (RIA Novosti) – The Alpha and Vympel elite special forces units lost ten members in the battles in Beslan and 26 were wounded, a spokesman for the Vympel veterans public organization said.

Mostly senior officers were killed. The Vympel unit lost seven officers and the Alpha unit lost three. According to the spokesman, Vympel unit had not lost so many men since it was created.

A FSB spokesman announced on Monday in Vladikavkaz that the burial of the officers would take place on Wednesday.

The spokesman said that FSB special forces suffered such heavy losses because the hostage rescue operation began spontaneously, when the roof of the school’s gymnasium collapsed.

When the special forces entered the gym, they saw a mass of bodies, both dead and alive.

"The officers started to take the living out of the school building," the spokesman said.

The terrorists, who were on the upper floors in prepared positions, began to shoot the escaping hostages and the officers and civilians who were rescuing them. The FSB special forces shielded the children from the bullets with their bodies.

"I understand very well, the feelings of the officers and soldiers from the Vympel and Alpha units," the spokesman said. "They acted in the first place as fathers, brothers and sons, saving the children at the cost of their own lives."

One of the FSB officers, who carried a small girl away from the terrorists’ fire, was wounded in the head and only came out of a coma on Monday.

"We hope he will recover," the spokesman said.

Other wounded special forces officers were mostly wounded on their extremities, but there are also more serious wounds, the spokesman said.

When visiting the scene of the tragedy on September 4, President Putin said that special services had sustained great losses.

"The events developed quickly and unexpectedly. The special services members behaved especially bravely," Mr. Putin said.

A Day-by-Day acount of events related to Terrorist Attack on School:

September 6, 2004 – Day 6

** Lavrov Pays Tribute to Victims of Holocaust and Beslan
Power Structures Report Details of Beslan Attack

September 4, 2004 – Day 4

** 63 Die In North Ossetian Hospitals
** Addresses by Vladimir Putin in Connection With Events in North Ossetia
** Bodies of 237 Killed Extracted from Under School’s Debris
** General Prosecutor’s Office: 322 People Including 155 Children Killed in Beslan
** Anxious Relatives Gather in Beslan
** Minister Lavrov: The Netherlands’ Demand Seems Blasphemous

September 3, 2004 – Day 3

** No Storming of the School to Free Hostages Was Planned
Gym’s Roof in School Collapses
** School Tragedy: 556 Survivors in Hospital
** Another 50 School Hostages Rescued. Ranger Dies to Save Little Girls
** Some School Hostages Stay in Bandit Hands
** Bandits Take Refuge in School Wing. Squall Skirmish On
** Transport Corridor for Ambulances Being Arranged Near Beslan School
** 200 People Wounded, Fight Near Beslan Adminstration
** Some Hostages Still Inside the School, Evacuation Continues
** Militants Fire at People
** Combat Underway Near Seized School
** Tens of Children Break Away from Seized School
** All Children in Seized School Are Alive
** Jordan Condemns Terrorist Acts in Russia Aimed Against Innocent People
** Relatives and Acquaintances of Hostages Again Gather at Cultural Centre in Beslan

September 2, 2004 – Day 2

** Turkish President Condemns Hostage-Taking in Beslan
** No Food, Water and Medicines for School Hostages: Dr. Roshal
** Hostage Takers Release Three Women with Babies
** Seven Casualties in Terrorist Attack in Beslan, 354 Held Hostage

September 1, 2004 – Day 1

** North Ossetia: Terrorists Seize School-Arabs Behind Curtain?
** Do Not Succumb to Fear and Hatred, Patriarch Alexis Calls Russia after Terror Acts

— September 6, 2004 (Day 6) —

Lavrov Pays Tribute to Victims of Holocaust and Beslan

JERUSALEM, September 6 (RIA Novosti) – On Monday, Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, visited Yad Vashem, the Authority for the Remembrance of the Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust.

Mr. Lavrov attended a ceremony where wreaths were laid and a flame was lit in the Memorial Hall.

Yad Vashem was established in 1953 to pay tribute to the memory of the millions of Jews killed by the Nazis and their allies during World War II. Four years later, it opened to visitors. Apart from exhibits, it contains a library, archives, theater, and the International Institute for Holocaust Studies.

Mr. Lavrov lit a candle at the Trinity Cathedral of the Russian clerical mission in Jerusalem in memory of the victims of the terrorist attack in Beslan.

According to Archbishop Yelisei, head of the Russian clerical mission in Jerusalem, a funeral service was held yesterday at all Russian Orthodox cathedrals in memory of the innocent people brutally murdered during the terrorist attack in Northern Ossetia.

During a short conversation between Archbishop Yelisei and Mr. Lavrov, the archbishop told the minister that the Trinity Cathedral was one of Russia’s national shrines in Jerusalem.

Power Structures Report Details of Beslan Attack

A man carries an injured boy from the beseiged school in North Ossetia, Russia.

Photo by Vladimir Suvorov / AFP

VLADIKAVKAZ, September 6 (RIA Novosti) – Authorities have reported details of the Beslan attack.

"Destabilization of the situation must be avoided by all means," said Sergei Fridinsky, deputy prosecutor general for the Southern Federal District.

The gang had 32 members. Bodies of 30 bandits were found and one terrorist captured. Another gunmen was torn apart by explosion, Fridinsky said.

According to him, the gang was "international": it included Chechens, Tatars, Kazakhs, Koreans.

The national belonging of the school attackers will be announced in news programs of North Ossetian TV and radio.

As they were approaching the school, the bandits were stopped by a policeman who tried to detain them. They captured the policemen, but he managed to flee in bustle, Fridinsky said.

Deputy Interior Minister Chekalin confirmed that the gang had two women. "They were blown up, the fragments of their bodies are being collected," deputy minister said.

Those who ordered the terrorist attack will be identified and named soon, an FSB officer said.

A total of 96 families will bury their 114 relatives, Chekalin said.

An engineer group will provide security at the funeral. The cemeteries are guarded. Reserve forces to provide for security of the funeral have been delivered to the area, deputy minister said.

Chekalin added that the resignation of North Ossetia’s interior minister Kazbek Dzantiev had not been accepted.

The FSB officer said the special forces officers killed during the hostage taking would be buried on Tuesday.

— September 4, 2004 (Day 4) —

63 Die In North Ossetian Hospitals

MOSCOW/BESLAN (North Ossetia), Sept 4 – RIA Novosti. The North Ossetian Health Ministry has told RIA Novosti that 63 people involved in the Beslan hostage taking have died from their serious wounds in the republic’s hospitals.

At 12:00 Moscow time, ten people remained in a critical condition in intensive care. According to the ministry, 70 people have been discharged after receiving treatment.

The North Ossetian Health Ministry informed RIA Novosti earlier that 477 former hostages, including 223 children, were being cared for in the republic’s hospitals.

"Most of the children are in the republic’s children’s hospital," the famous paediatrician, Leonid Roshal, told RIA in a telephone interview. According to him, doctors have everything they need to treat the children.

"Very qualified people are working here," he said.

"I have examined virtually all the children," the doctor continued. "The majority of them have wounds that are not life threatening, but there are some seriously ill [children]."

In his opinion, there is no need to transfer these children to hospitals in other regions of the country.

"There are also children in hospital who are not wounded, but who are in shock, and children with cuts and bruises," Dr Roshal said before adding that psychologists are currently working with the children.

Addresses by Vladimir Putin in Connection With Events in North Ossetia

A Russian girl prays for those killed in Beslan during a service at an Orthodox church in central Moscow, September 5, 2004. Muscovites come to commemorate 333 people killed as a result of the terrorists seizure of hostages in Russia’s southern town of Beslan.

Photo by Gleb Garanich / Reuters

MOSCOW, September 4 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President delivered a televised address in connection with the recent tragic events in the North Ossetian city of Beslan.

"It’s very hard and bitter to speak. A terrible tragedy occurred in Russia. All these days every one of us deeply suffered and bore in the hearts what was happening in the Russian city of Beslan, where we saw not just killers, but those who used weapons against the unprotected children.

And now, first of all, I turn with the words of support and empathy to people, who lost the most valuable in their lives – children and relatives.

I ask everyone to remember always those, who were killed by terrorists in the course of the last days.

As I’ve been repeatedly saying we have encountered many crises, revolts and terrorist attacks. However, the recent tragic events was an inhuman and unprecedented in its cruelty crime of terrorists. It was not a challenge against the President, Parliament or the government. This was a challenge against Russia and our nation as a whole. This was an attack against our country," the President noted.

"We are not dealing here with separate actions of intimidation and terrorist attacks. We are dealing with the direct intervention of international terrorism into Russia.

What we see is a total, cruel and full-scale war, which takes away lives of our compatriots.

The world experience shows that such wars are unfortunately lengthy. Under such conditions we cannot continue to lead an incautious life as before.

We must create more effective security system and to demand from our law-enforcement structures actions, which would be adequate to the level and scale of the new threats.

The most important thing is the mobilization of the nation in the face of the common danger.

We are all now experiencing together difficult and mournful hours. I want to thank all, who displayed self-control and civil responsibility.

We will always be stronger than they are – in our morals, courage and human solidarity. I have once again seen it last night.

In Beslan – the city which is now soaked with grief and pain, people were taking care and supported each other.

They were never afraid to risk their lives for the sake of lives and peace of others.

Even under the most inhuman conditions they remained humans.

It’s impossible to put up with the pain of losses, but the tragedy brought us closer to each other and made us reappraise many things.

We have to be together today. This is the only way to defeat the enemy," Vladimir Putin said.

Bodies of 237 Killed Extracted from Under School’s Debris

BESLAN, September 4 (RIA Novosti) – According to the data available at 5:00 p.m. (Moscow time), bodies of 237 killed people including 144 children were extracted from under the school’s debris in Beslan, the North Ossetian Health Ministry told RIA Novosti.

Currently rescuers of the Emergencies Ministry continue their works. The works will be soon over.

Russian Deputy General Prosecutor for the Southern Federal District Sergei Fridinsky spoke about the brutality of the terrorists, who captured the school in Beslan.

"From time to time the terrorists would take several hostages and shoot them. In the course of two days they would position the hostages against the wall and shoot them for even a small insubordination to their plans," Mr. Fridinsky said on air of Rossia TV-channel.

"Thus, in the course of two days the bandits shot and threw outside 20 hostages," he added.

In the early hours of September 1 a group of terrorists captured a secondary school number 1 in the North Ossetian town of Beslan. For more than two days the bandits kept approximately 1,000 people as hostages.

According to the preliminary information, as a result of the terrorist attack 322 people including 155 children were killed, some 700 were injured. There is still no information about some 130 people.

General Prosecutor’s Office: 322 People Including 155 Children Killed in Beslan

Bodies of schoolchildren and hostages killed in a terrorists school seizure seen in a hospital morgue in Beslan, North Ossetia, Friday, Sept. 3, 2004. Witnesses reported hearing an explosion than seeing children fleeing the school. Also reported that mines set amongst the children to prevent attempts to escape.

Photo by Musa Sadulayev / AP Photo

BESLAN (North Ossetia), September 4 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Deputy General Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky confirmed the information that as a result of the recent terrorist attack in Beslan 322 people including 155 children were killed and over 700 people were injured.

"The operative and investigative measures are underway. The number of bodies may increase since we continue to clear the debris, but we hope that the increase will be insufficient," Mr. Fridinsky told journalists.

Head of the operative headquarters, Head of the FSB department in North Ossetia Valery Andreyev told journalists in his turn that part of the weapons and explosives was brought to school in advance and was hidden there.

"We are thoroughly investigating this version as well as several other versions. We have already identified the terrorists," Andreyev said.

(A source in the law enforcement structures told RIA Novosti that according to some data the weapons were hidden under the floor in the gym during the reconstruction work in school this summer.)

According to Andreyev, in the course of the inspection of the tragedy scene a considerable number of explosives and mines, destined to kill the hostages, was found and disarmed by the law enforcement officers.

"The number of explosives and the continuity of the battle between the terrorists and special purpose troops proves that there can be only one version – the terrorists prepared for the attack in advance," the head of the operative headquarters disclosed.

The operation to free the hostages and eliminate the terrorists is over, he added.

Anxious Relatives Gather in Beslan

BESLAN (North Ossetia), 4 Sept – RIA Novosti. Relatives of former hostages who have not found their loved ones in the local hospitals are gathering at the House of Culture in Beslan.

About 500 people have assembled before the building and more are arriving. Lists of the names of the identified bodies and patients in hospital were supposed to have been put up at 12:00 Moscow time.

However, these lists are still not ready and this is making those people who do not know anything about the fate of their relatives anxious.

Spokesmen for the emergency HQ have told RIA Novosti that, during meetings with relatives, the authorities have been trying to put together a list of people whose fate remains unknown. This should help the identification procedure, as well as a more detailed search of the local medical centres.

North Ossetia’s chief prosecutor, Alexander Vigulov, has told relatives of the victims and journalists that the final number of the people who lost their lives in the school is still not known, as an investigation of the site of the tragedy is continuing.

He added that bomb disposal experts were defusing the explosive devices planted by the terrorists and the surrounding topsoil was being removed layer by layer.

Mr Vigulov also announced that he had agreed with the head of the local administration that buses would be laid on today to take relatives to the mortuary at the hospital in Vladikavkaz so that they could identify the bodies.

Minister Lavrov: The Netherlands’ Demand Seems Blasphemous

CAIRO, September 4 (RIA Novosti) – The statement of the Netherlands’ foreign minister, in which he demanded from Russia explanations in connection with the tragic events in Beslan, seems blasphemous, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disclosed in Cairo.

"The Russian government was grateful to all states and international organizations, which expressed their condolences and offered support in connection with the outrageous terrorist attack on the school in Beslan. The EU expressed the same feelings," Mr. Lavrov said.

"However, we were astonished with the statement of Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, who demanded from the Russian government explanations in connection with the tragedy in Beslan," he said.

"The tragic events in Beslan were broadcasted live all over the world and the reports from the scene of the terrorist attack leave no doubts that the massacre was initiated by terrorists, who couldn’t sustain the strain any longer," Mr. Lavrov noted.

"In this situation, when the Russian government stated that the top priority was to save the lives of the hostages, especially children, Mr. Bot’s statement seems blasphemous," the Russian foreign minister stressed.

"I do not want to suspect him of siding with such activists as Akhmed Zakayev, who found a soft spot in London and disclosed today that the Russian government was to blame for the tragedy in the North Ossetia. The explanations must be demanded from the EU countries, where such terrorists as Zakayev entrenched themselves," Mr. Lavrov said.

— September 3, 2004 (Day 3) —

No Storming of the School to Free Hostages Was Planned

A volunteer carries a small child after special forces stormed a school seized by heavily armed masked men and women in the town of Beslan in the province of North Ossetia near Chechnya, September 3, 2004.

Stringer / Russia/ Reuters

MOSCOW/BESLAN, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – The operations staff did not plan the use of force to free the hostages in Beslan, said Valery Andreyev, head of the FSB department for North Ossetia. "We did not plan the use of force; we planned to negotiate the hostages’ release, and this is why presidential adviser Aslakhanov has come here," Andreyev said.

He recalled that in the morning, the staff of the Emergencies Ministry, acting by prior agreement with the terrorists, went to the school to remove the bodies of the killed hostages. However, "two powerful explosions shook the building, after which hostages started running out of the school. The bandits opened fire at them," said the department head.

"To save the hostages, we returned fire and local residents started shooting at the bandits, too. Spetsnaz did everything possible to save the hostages. It was thanks to their professionalism that many hostages were saved," he stressed.

Gym’s Roof in School Collapses

BESLAN (North Ossetia), September 3 (RIA Novosti) – The roof of the school’s structure accommodating the gym fully collapsed, RIA Novosti reports from the scene of the tragedy.

Fire broke out precisely at this place in the school. Now some smoke can be seen over the building.

Actually all windows in the school have been broken. Brick walls have been damaged by bullets and fragments. The windows in the first floor of the school’s main building facing the headquarters are barricaded with furniture and boxes.

Rescuers are preparing to clear the debris in the school’s burnt sports hall. According to the interior personnel and rescuers staying on the scene, there were, no doubt, victims during the combat.

Some automatic fire bursts and sometimes explosions are still heard behind the school’s building. To all appearances, special forces are continuing to search for and chase the militants that have been able to escape from the school.

Meanwhile, according to an officer from the Central Rescue team, one rescuer of the Ministry of Emergency Situations died and three others were wounded.

Rescuers helped bring the bodies of the hostages killed by militants out of the school. During this operation, bandits opened fire.

School Tragedy: 556 Survivors in Hospital

BESLAN, NORTH OSSETIA, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – 556 rescued school hostages are in hospitals by now-a majority with bullet wounds, and some with bad burns and bruises, reports an operation HQ spokesman

Another 50 School Hostages Rescued. Ranger Dies to Save Little Girls

MOSCOW, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – Another fifty or more hostages have been rescued from the Beslan school, Valeri Andreyev, North Osset board chief of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, said in a Rossia national television live cast.

He made a reverential mention of a ranger officer who saved two little girls at the price of his own life.

More than sixty terror victims have been identified for now. They are not all, by far, warned Andreyev.

Presumably, more than 150 hostages perished, Aslambek Aslakhanov, federal presidential adviser, said earlier on the day.

Some School Hostages Stay in Bandit Hands

BESLAN, NORTH OSSETIA, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – Not all school hostages have been rescued for now, says Valeri Andreyev, North Osset board chief of the Federal Security Service, or FSB. Twenty terrorists died in the ranger school storm-half of them Arabs, he pointed out to a media audience.

Presumably, more than 150 hostages perished, says Aslambek Aslakhanov, federal presidential adviser. As talks were on, the terrorists said they were holding 1,200-but then, they could mention whatever figures they liked, he remarked.

"A blast came inside the school just when rescuers were removing victims’ bodies. Another several blasts closely followed in the heavily mined premises. The kids ran for their life. The bandits were shooting them in the back. They battered several children with rifle butts. Federal rangers rushed to the rescue. That was how the battle started. No one thought things would take that turn-we were negotiating to sever the knot with no violence," said Mr. Aslakhanov.

Rescuers have now started to clean the debris inside the school, he added.

Bandits Take Refuge in School Wing. Squall Skirmish On

BESLAN, NORTH OSSETIA, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – A part of bandits are holding a wing of the seized school. An intermittent squall skirmish is on with the rangers who are storming the premises. Both sides are using grenade throwers, our correspondent reports from the site.

The doctors have everything they need to attend to the wounded-bandages, medicines and donor blood, says the republican Health Ministry.

A Polish TV man hit in the arm goes on working. That is Victor Bater, national television camera, says a spokesman of the Polish Embassy to Russia.

Transport Corridor for Ambulances Being Arranged Near Beslan School

BESLAN, SEPTEMBER 3 (RIA Novosti) – Rescuers, paramedics, policemen, troopers are arranging a transport corridor for ambulances to get to the school, take up the wounded and carry them to the hospital, the RIA Novosti correspondent reports from the site.

Despite the shootout still going on near the school, some hostages are being evacuated from the building.

The RIA Novosti correspondent has seen a wounded man and two small schoolchildren being taken out on stretchers. A wounded commando was also seen being evacuated from the school building.

200 People Wounded, Fight Near Beslan Adminstration

BESLAN (North Ossetia), September 3 (RIA Novosti) – A battle is taking place near the administration building of Beslan, said Speaker of the North Ossetian parliament Taimuraz Mamsurov.

He urged Beslan residents to mop up the town in groups, before dusk, in search of the terrorists.

"You should break into groups, take walkie-talkies and stop all the strangers who do not live in this block. You should do this before dusk," said Mamsurov.

The number of those wounded in Beslan has increased to 200 people, the North Ossetian Interior Ministry has told RIA Novosti.

Some of them who are not in a critical condition are heading for Vladikavkaz hospitals.

Doctors and the police are trying to evacuate another group of hostages from the fire exchange zone. There are injured people among them, who should be transported on stretchers, the local Interior Ministry reports.

The majority of the wounded are led from the side adjoining the house of culture, which is the most convenient way from the school.

As Tatiana Chsheyeva, head of the secondary educational institutions department, has told RIA Novosti on the phone the pupils of the school numbered 895 at the end of the previous school year, and teachers accounted for 59. There are 36 classes in the school.

According to Chsheyeva, the seized school is the largest of all the six schools of Beslan.

The latest blast in the school triggered fire. Rescuers and fire-fighters cannot approach the building due to the ongoing shooting, the North Ossetian Interior Ministry reports

Some Hostages Still Inside the School, Evacuation Continues

BESLAN (North Ossetia), September 3 (RIA Novosti) – According to the North Ossetian Interior Ministry, some hostages have remained inside the school. Their number is unknown. The evacuation efforts are continuing.

Helicopters are still flying over the area around the school in search of the militants, the source said.

According to the Interior Ministry, the terrorists are blocked by the commandos. The militants are firing back with grenade throwers and submachine guns.

Some hostages have been killed.

"The North Ossetian Interior Ministry has no precise information about the death toll, because the bodies of the killed hostages are in the fire exchange zone, and they cannot be taken out". said the source.

Militants Fire at People

BESLAN, North Ossetia, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – A group of militants who tried to escape from the school opened desultory fire at people, while law enforcers are hindering this, reports a RIA Novosti correspondent.

By witness reports, the militants tried to escape to the city from the school. They tried to hide in several directions, that’s why shooting is underway in several districts adjacent to the school.

Those wounded are taken away from the school in ambulances.

Combat Underway Near Seized School

BESLAN, North Ossetia, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – Combat is underway near the seized school in Beslan. Several helicopters are in the air, reports a RIA Novosti correspondent.

A few cars, including ambulances, have passed by the staff in an unknown direction. Shooting from automatic weapons is heard near the school.

Power departments opened return fire to save hostages who managed to break away from the school, reports a RIA Novosti correspondent with reference to a witness.

"People started to run away from the school hall. Terrorists opened fire. Power departments opened return fire to save those who escaped," said the witness.

Tens of Children Break Away from Seized School

School children drink water after being rescued from terrorists in Beslan, Northern Ossetia, Russia Friday, Sept. 3, 2004, in this image taken from television. Many of the children were partially clothed because of the stifling heat in the school gym. Terrorists refused to accept water or food from negotiators for the children and threatened to kill hostages. A survivor of the attack said children were forced to drink their own urine out of desperation. It’s unknown how many youth succombed due to the terrible conditions.

APTN / AP Photo

MOSCOW, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – Tens of children have broken away from the seized school. Television shows the evacuated children hugged by parents. They are given water.

The children are in underwear.

Those wounded are taken away from the school in ambulances, reports a RIA Novosti correspondent.

Terrorists made an attempt to break away from the school to the city.

Special forces lead combat with the terrorists who are trying to hide in a residential neighborhood near the school, say witnesses.




All Children in Seized School Are Alive

BESLAN, North Ossetia, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – All children in the seized school in Beslan are alive, Lev Dzugayev, the press secretary of the North Ossetian president, told journalists. He said the authorities have not received terrorists’ demands.

By the latest information, evacuation of the bodies of those killed has started near the school building in Beslan.

Earlier, Mr. Dzugayev said that this was agreed upon with terrorists.

"We managed to agree about evacuation of the bodies of those killed. We hope during further contacts we will manage to resolve the issue about provision of hostages with water, food and medicine," he said.

Jordan Condemns Terrorist Acts in Russia Aimed Against Innocent People

MOSCOW, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – Jordan decisively condemns terrorist acts in Russia aimed against innocent people, said Jordanian King Abdallah II.

"Now the time is very hard for us, it’s a time of challenge for all those who despise terror," Abdallah II said addressing MGIMO students.

"As a father, I can say that our fathers and mothers are praying together with your fathers and mothers. All our citizens sympathize with your grief and support your determination," said the Jordanian king.

"As for the Islamic world, on its behalf I can say that extremists won’t be able to make the real Islam fall silent. Our faith respects tolerance and peace," said Abdallah II.

Relatives and Acquaintances of Hostages Again Gather at Cultural Centre in Beslan

BESLAN/North Ossetia, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – This is the third day since the hostages were taken in the school of Beslan, North Ossetia. RIA correspondent reports from the town that the relatives and acquaintances of the victims and other residents of Beslan are again gathering in and around the town’s cultural centre.

The cordoned zone around the school where the relatives and journalists are not allowed has been increased. Before that, they could freely move between the building of the town administration, where the headquarters of the operation is located, and the cultural centre. From now on, their movement there has been prohibited and the metal railings have been moved away by approximately 100 metres, to ensure greater safety of the people.

The decision was made after several unprovoked shots from an under-barrel mine-launcher and automatic weapons were made from the vicinity of the school in the night of September 2/3. One explosion hit a site 50 metres away from journalists, wounding a policeman.

— September 2, 2004 (Day 2) —

Turkish President Condemns Hostage-Taking in Beslan

MOSCOW, September 2 (RIA Novosti) – In a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer condemned the hostage taking in the North Ossetian city of Beslan.

The Turkish president stressed that Ankara, which is against any form of terrorism, resolutely condemns this barbarous act and expresses the hope for successful resolution of the crisis, the Kremlin press service said. Mr.

Sezer expressed full understanding of the Russian president’s decision to put off his official Turkish visit, earlier planned for September 2 to 3, to a later date and expressed sincere compassion and solidarity with the Russian president, and the people of Russia in connection with the tragic situation in North Ossetia.

Mr. Putin thanked Mr. Sezer for his support and solidarity.

No Food, Water and Medicines for School Hostages: Dr. Roshal

MOSCOW, September 2 (RIA Novosti) – School terrorists would not agree to allow food, water and medicines passed to their hostages in Beslan, North Ossetia, says Leonid Roshal, renowned children’s doctor, who is on the drama site.

"I am in uninterrupted talks with one Shoikhu-I am not sure I’ve got the name right. The man has introduced himself as [terrorist] press attache. They would not give food, water or medicines to the kids and adults in the school. The man says he is a highlander. I told him highlanders never behaved that way," Dr. Roshal said in a Rossia national television channel live cast.

"The release of an initial 26 hostages is certainly a victory-but it’s a mere drop in the ocean. The very fact of someone set free is a big achievement, but a huge job is ahead yet."

Dr. Roshal is indignant at the International Red Cross inactivity. "I am wary with the Red Cross’ stance. To be honest, I am indignant. It is their duty to be here and arrange talks, and food and medicine supplies. I am baffled to see no International Red Cross officers here."

The famous physician says the terrorists have not yet made any explicit demands. He calls on Ossetians, Chechens and the Ingush to display wisdom.

"If the matter has a tragic outcome, it will mean war-a warfare in this explosive area. We must prevent war between fraternal peoples at all cost. I am appealing to the wisdom of the Ossetian, Ingush and Chechen peoples to ward off the looming war danger. A war will take thousands of lives, and we must see it," said the doctor.

Terrorists themselves summoned him from Moscow as negotiator.

Dr. Roshal covered himself with glory in fall 2002, when terrorists seized a Moscow theater in Dubrovka Street during performance to take hostage a house and company of 800.

Hostage Takers Release Three Women with Babies

BESLAN (North Ossetia), September 2 (RIA Novosti) – Militants who took hostages in Beslan have released three women with babies, Lev Dzugayev, the chief of the information and analysis department under the North Ossetian president, told the hostages’ relatives and journalists.

"We regard it as a first success," Mr. Dzugayev said, expressing the hope that this success can be "secured."

The department chief called on the media to display reserve while covering the situation in Beslan. He refuted reports about a fire that allegedly occurred near the school.

An official spokesman for the operational staff confirmed the news about the release of women to journalists.

Seven Casualties in Terrorist Attack in Beslan, 354 Held Hostage

BESLAN (North Ossetia), September 2, (RIA Novosti) – Seven people have become casualties of a terrorist attack in Beslan, while 354 are being held hostage, according to the latest information of the emergency headquarters, Lev Dzugayev, head of the news and analysis department of the president of North Ossetia, told journalists.

He added that there are no children among the dead.

"Throughout the night we were collating lists of people taken hostage. We prepared water and food, but it is yet impossible to pass it on," Dzugayev said. He said the headquarters has information that the children are in a satisfactory condition.

Dzugayev repeated that although contact with the militants exists, it is only one-way, and it is too difficult to say for the time being what precise demands they are making. "Nor can we as yet say who these people are and who stands behind them," he added.

Dzugayev reported that the doctor Leonid Roshal, who is in Beslan, is as yet unsuccessfully trying to establish contact with the gunmen.

According to North Ossetia’s Interior Ministry, 15 schoolchildren managed to escape from the captured school during Wednesday, Kazbek Dzantiyev, the North Ossetian Interior Minister, said during a meeting with relatives of the hostages.

"Immediately after the seizure, 12 schoolchildren succeeded in hiding themselves in a boiler room, from which they were moved out. Then, in the course of the day, three more were able to escape. No one else could be released," he said.

All the night through the hot telephone line at the emergency headquarters to free hostages in North Ossetia was receiving calls from people concerned for the children and their parents.

"Calls came from all over Russia, beginning with Moscow and ending with Magadan. There were callers from St Petersburg, Komi, Karelia, and Obninsk. Rings were made from Armenia, Azerbaijan and even New York," a hot line operator told RIA Novosti.

He said calls are made not only by relatives, but also by non-relatives, and they make up about 30 per cent of all those who ring up.

"There are people offering themselves as hostages instead of the children. They express their sympathy, and suggest their methods of resolving problems, although most of the calls are, of course, from relatives," the RIA Novosti source said.

Quite a number of calls come, according to him, from believers. "They are praying and wish for a successful outcome."

The telephone number of the round-the-clock hot line is 8-867-37-31-554.

The situation in the area of the school seized by militants in Beslan remains relatively calm, reports a RIA Novosti correspondent from the scene of action.

Outside the cultural centre and the town administration building, where the emergency headquarters is situated, there still stand relatives and parents of the schoolchildren taken hostage.

From the side of the school there came several single shots/ According to police officials, these shots fired by militants are of a warning nature, as it was throughout the previous day.

At the same time the UN Security Council has demanded an immediate and unconditional release of all hostages captured in the course of a terrorist attack in Beslan.

The UN Security Council, in a statement adopted at an emergency meeting on Wednesday, described the bandits’ action as a disgusting act of terror.

The Security Council strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Moscow and on two Russian passenger jets, which have resulted in numerous fatal human casualties and injured.

The Security Council expresses its deepest sympathy with and condolences to the people and government of the Russian Federation, and also to victims of these terrorist attacks and their relatives, the statement says.

The Security Council urged all states, in accordance with their obligations assumed in fulfilment of resolution 1373 of 2001, to actively cooperate with Russian authorities in their efforts to identify and bring to justice the doers, organisers and providers of finance for these terrorist attacks.

"Absolutely all Security Council members unanimously expressed their most heartfelt and sincere sympathy with our people and support for the Russian government’s efforts on the counter-terrorist track," Andrei Denisov, Russia’s UN permanent representative, said at the conclusion of the meeting. "The Security Council has demonstrated its principled, consistent and deep-thought will to counter terrorism."

Josep Borrel, new president of the European parliament, strongly condemned the hostage-taking in North Ossetia.

No demands, be they political or religious, can justify this base act, Borrel says in a statement obtained by RIA Novosti.

These odious terrorists bring death to and blackmail people who happen to cross their way, the statement stresses.

The head of the European parliament expressed solidarity with the families of the Russians taken hostage by the terrorists.

Borrel also condemned the terrorist attack in Moscow and expressed condolences to the near and dear ones of those killed.

— September 1, 2004 (Day 1) —

Do Not Succumb to Fear and Hatred, Patriarch Alexis Calls Russia after Terror Acts

MOSCOW, September 1 (RIA Novosti’s Olga Lipich) – "Don’t succumb to fear and hatred in the face of terrorism!" His Beatitude Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, calls his flock in a public statement as he expresses condolence to the bereaved in last night’s Moscow blast, and compassion with the injured and their near and dear.

"Terrorists have declared war on all who live in Russia. Coming under the blow now is Moscow, whose diocesan see I have the honour to hold," the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church says in a telegram he forwarded to Mayor Yuri Luzhkov today. The Moscow Patriarchate Department of External Church Relations has offered the message to the public.

"I appeal to Muscovites to be on their guard, not succumb to panic, and not allow hatred to take root in their heart. We are to be at one in our resolution to repulse militant evil. Take courage! This city used to go through heinous times but always honourably emerged from trials and tribulations. Terrorism may seem an ineradicable evil, yet I firmly believe we shall vanquish it," says the Patriarch.

"May the Lord heal the injured! I am praying for the innocent who perished in the act. May their souls have eternal rest in Heaven!

"I am specially grateful to those who are now helping the injured and their families," says His Beatitude.

Terrorists seized a secondary school in Beslan, North Ossetia, today, to take pupils hostage. As soon as he received the blood-curdling news, Theophanes Bishop of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz appealed to the bandits to release the children. "God’s innocent creatures were under sacred protection of all peoples in all times," he said in a statement forwarded to President Alexander Dzasokhov of North Ossetia/Alania, reports the diocesan press service.

"May my call reach those who have captured the innocents! I appeal to them in the name of the Lord: set the children free! Harm not their tender hearts and budding souls! No goal canjustify what you are doing. Reason will take the upper hand, is my firm belief," says the bishop.

Bishop Theophanes expresses heartfelt compassion for his Christian flock in North Ossetia. "I am at one with you in your plight, my kind and pious Osset people. I pray to God for the drama to come to a happy ending," he says.

North Ossetia: Terrorists Seize School-Arabs Behind Curtain?

BESLAN, NORTH OSSETIA, September 1 (RIA Novosti) -Terrorists seized a secondary school in Beslan, North Ossetia-Russia’s North Caucasian autonomy, on the academic year’s start. Eleven injured survivors have been taken to the district hospital. The hospital is circulating a list of seven dead and four wounded.

Aslambek Aslakhanov, advisor to federal President Vladimir Putin, is not sure about the number, ethnicity and nationality of the terrorists. They cling to previous demands-to stop Chechen warfare and release captured militants who were taking part in a violent attack on Ingush police premises, June 21, he said to the media.

Mr. Aslakhanov discerns one and the same Arab terrorist organisation behind the latest terror acts in Russia-last night’s Moscow blast and today’s tragedy in Beslan. "All countries on the anti-terror coalition are to join hands, and act tough on that organisation all together," he said.

The presidential advisor will fly to North Ossetia quite soon.

When asked whether there was a chance for the school terrorists to release the seized children, he replied: "That’s what I am praying the Almighty about! The beasts are down on kids now! Is there anything human left in them?"

"As we are making war on terrorists, we clearly realise it is international terrorism we are dealing with, wherever it may base-in Ingushetia, Ossetia or Chechnya. We are fighting them, and we shall try to kill them off as we have been doing," Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s First Deputy Prime Minister, said to national television Channel One. His father, Chechen President, died in a terror act last spring.

The Beslan school seizure proves that "the terrorists are inhuman. They have no sublime idea-nothing at all they would hold sacred. September 1 is a jubilant festive day. They made it tragic for the kids and for us all. There is no more chance to have talks with them," he said in grim resolution.

The Coordination Centre of North Caucasian Muslims is circulating a public statement to "express indignation and denounce the terror act in which innocents were taken hostage. The terrorists have captured kids and babies to show their true self, with its appalling cynicism. They have been driven into a deadlock, and are now unblushingly making headlong demands to demonstrate-to their masters and benefactors, above all-that they are still to reckon with. These devils must be ousted from our land and community."

The phenomenon of Shahidism is sacred to every Muslim, and what terrorists are now doing clashes with the Muslim canon, points out the statement as it expresses condolence with the bereaved and compassion with the injured