Ana Maria Luca writes: On 1 September 2004, 32 militants of the Riyadus-Salikin Battalion led by Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev stormed a school in Beslan, North Osetia, an autonomous republic of the Russian Federation in the North Caucasus. The 32 militants took 1,100 hostages, including 700 children on their first school day.
The standoff lasted for three days. On the third day, the negotiators made a deal with the militants to exchange the 700 children with 700 well-known Russian figures willing to take their place. The swap was supposed to happen at 3pm. It never did, because two hours earlier strange things started to happen: the security forces stormed the school and the siege ended with around 394 dead, 200 of them children. After a couple of explosions on the school’s rooftop, it burst into flames and the roof simply collapsed on the hostages inside, trapping the wounded as many of them burned alive.
An investigation conducted by a committee in the Russian State Duma concluded that the tragedy started with two shots fired from outside the school. Witnesses said a federal forces sniper shot a militant whose foot was on a dead man’s detonator, while actually wounding some hostages in the process. But the ‘official’ version of the Russian government was that the militants detonated bombs among the hostages, to “the surprise of Russian negotiators and commanders.”
Beslan is how Russia deals with terrorism. Somehow, many innocent civilians always die in the process of taking out a few militants. The ends always justify the means for the Kremlin; there is only black and white, never shades of grey. Never an apology, always a cover-up. [Continue reading…]