Probe into Russia Beslan tragedy blames police
MOSCOW (Reuters) – The head of a probe into Russia’s bloody
Beslan school attack said on Wednesday that local police had
ignored instructions to strengthen security around schools
which, if taken at the time, could have averted the tragedy.
Alexander Torshin, heading the parliamentary commission
investigating the September 2004 seizure of hostages, said
there had been many “mistakes and shortcomings.”
Torshin said that in August of that year Russian Interior
Ministry chiefs had told regional police responsible for
Beslan, in the North Ossetia region, to strengthen security
around schools on the first day of the school year.
“These instructions could have averted a terrorist act or
hindered it being carried out. However, they were not
fulfilled,” Torshin, a member of Russia’s upper house of
Some 330 people — half of them children — died after
heavily armed Chechen militants took them hostage in the
southern Russia school.
Most died in a series of sudden explosions and firefights
at the end but it is not clear what sparked the carnage.
Many surviving hostages blame local officials for failing
to stop the gunmen reaching Beslan, and for allowing the tense
stand-off to end in a bloodbath.