On Saturday, North Ossetia’s authorities announced a three-day mourning period to commemorate the victims of the deadly attack.
Over 30 armed terrorists, including several women, led by Rasul Khachbarov (also known as Colonel) drove a canvas-covered truck into the courtyard of secondary school No.1 in the city of Beslan, in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania during celebrations dedicated to the start of the school year on September 1, 2004.
Armed men jumped out of the vehicle and immediately started firing automatic weapons over the heads of people in the courtyard, forcing the crowd into the school building. Only a lucky few managed to take advantage of the ensuing chaos and escape.
According to preliminary estimates, 354 people were taken hostage. It turned out later that the figures were significantly higher – 1,116. The vast majority of them were children, including pre-schoolers.
The terrorists herded most of the hostages into the school gym and several other locations inside the school. At first, the hostage-takers made no demands but soon said that they wanted to meet with then North Ossetian head Alexander Dzasokhov, then Ingush President Murat Zyazikov and the Moscow Emergency Children’s Surgery and Traumatology Research Institute director, Leonid Roshal. According to some reports, they demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Chechen Republic and the release of previously…