Putin promises response after 300+ dead in hostage situation

Sept. 4, 2004, midnight | By Fidan Karimova | 16 years, 2 months ago

More than 160 children among dead

This is not original reporting. All information has been compiled from The Washington Post, The New York Times and Reuters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised a swift response to Islamist militants responsible for the Beslan school siege, which ended in violent bloodshed after a 52-hour long standoff on Friday, Sept. 3, according to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Putin spoke on national television on Saturday, Sept. 4, urging citizens to meet the threat of terrorism. "This is an attack against all of us," he said, according to The New York Times.

With a rising death toll currently at 330, and children accounting for more than half of the casualties, the incident has shaken Russia and been universally condemned by the international community, according to Reuters.

One hundred and fifty five children have been reported dead with officials warning of higher totals. In addition, close to 700 hostages have been hospitalized, including 300 children who were hurt when bombs, grenades and booby traps exploded in a gymnasium where the victims were kept, stated The Washington Post.

On Wednesday, at least 26 rebels took control of Middle School No. 1 in Beslan, a town of 30,000 in southern Russia. The rebels refused to accept shipments of food and water for the hostages, according to The Associated Press. By Friday, however, the situation appeared to improve when rebel forces agreed to have Russian officials collect the bodies of the adults killed in the initial shoot-out. However, circumstances worsened when four doctors from the Emergency Situation Ministry attempted to bring in the dead bodies. Explosions erupted inside the building after 1:00 p.m., and hostages began to flee from the building. The insurgents opened fire, shooting many children and adults in their backs, according to The Washington Post.

A website of a Muslim group with ties to al Queda claimed responsibility for the school siege. The exact makeup of the terrorists are not known, but Russian officials believe the group to be composed of Chechens, Russians and Arabs, according to The Washington Post . Chechen rebels have been fighting for an independent state for the last several years, frequently using terrorism to gain recognition. Chechen rebels are also believed to be responsible for twin plane bombings near Moscow two weeks ago that killed 89 passengers.

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