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Monday Marks Dark Anniversary in Russia

Mon, 01 Sep 2014 13:09:27 +0000

Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Monday marks one of the darkest anniversaries in Russia's recent history.

Ten years ago, on Sept. 1, 2004, a group of 32 pro-Chechen gunmen burst into School Number 1 in Beslan in the southern Russian republic of North Ossetia. They stormed the school during the "first bell" celebration marking the beginning of the school year.

More than 1,000 people – children and adults – were held hostage for three days: 334 of them were killed, most dying in a bloody gun battle when Russian special forces stormed the school gymnasium where the hostages were being kept, which the militants had littered with mines and bombs. More than 800 hostages were injured.

The hostage crisis in Beslan and the bungled rescue was a defining moment in Putin's war in southern Russia. The sole gunman who survived was jailed but spared the death penalty.


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