3 September 2004

Tragedy in Russia

Russian troops stormed the secondary school in Beslan, North Ossetia (a sovereign republic in the Russian Federation) where civilians and school children were being held by terrorists. Evidently, the action was taken after the hostage-takers inside the building started firing at school children who were attempting to escape. Over a hundred civilians are reported dead so far. Obsidian Wings has links to Russian photos of the massacre.

News sources include Gazeta.ru, Pravda, Kommersant (provides a detailed timeline), The Moscow Times ("150 may be dead"), and St. Petersburg Times.

And there seems to be a silence about this from much of the Chechen Press. The Chechen Times, while claiming the moral nature of the independence struggle, concedes that the current terrorist attack besmirches the movement's sense of "honor and honesty."

A BBC article details some of the probably failures of the Russian security forces. One that sticks in my mind is the ability of hostage takers to possible flee the area. It's hard to see how this could happen. We aren't talking about people running around a province, afterall, but people holed up in a school! Isn't it possible to set up a perimeter at a safe distance away from the school and clear out everyone within it (excluding those in the school) before anything happened?

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