International

Russian Panel Places Some Fault on Military for School Massacre

By Sean Cavanagh — December 13, 2005 1 min read

A legislative panel investigating the school massacre in the Russian town of Beslan last year has blamed government forces for an uncoordinated response to the crisis and has contradicted some aspects of the military’s official account of the event, according to media reports.

Those findings were released by Stanislav Kesayev, a lawmaker who is leading a panel established by the legislature in the republic of North Ossetia, where Beslan is located. On Sept. 1, 2004, heavily armed militants took hundreds of children and adults hostage in Middle School No. 1. After a two-day standoff, shooting erupted between the hostage takers and Russian security forces, and possibly civilians, followed by explosions. More than 330 hostages, 186 of them children, were killed. Russian authorities have blamed the attack on Chechen militants.

Mr. Kesayev, in a recent speech, said federal forces responsible for mistakes during the standoff should be punished, according to reports from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Associated Press. His report also called into question whether an initial explosion in the school’s gymnasium was set off by hostage takers. Yevgeny Khorishko, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, noted that two other inquiries are under way, one by prosecutors, another overseen by the national elected legislative body, or Duma. Although he declined to comment in detail about the North Ossetian panel’s findings, the embassy spokesman said the Duma’s eventual report would likely find at least some faults in authorities’ response to the Beslan crisis.

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