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Witnesses Say Some 100 Dead In Russian School Siege

3 September 2004 -- The hostage crisis at a school in southern Russia has come to a violent end, with reports of an estimated 100 people killed and 400 wounded after a chaotic end to the seige.

There are conflicting reports on the sequence of events that led to Russian troops storming the building where militants -- some strapped with explosives -- had been holding several hundred children and adults hostage for more than two days.

North Ossetia's regional chief of the Federal Security Service, Valerii Andreev, said the government forces did not initiate the battle. "I want to point out that we we had not planned any armed action," he said. "We expected to continue talks for the peaceful release of the hostages."

Amid explosions and gunfire, and the sound of helicopters overhead, children ran for safety, many of them partially naked.

There were reports that some hostage takers were killed in the gunfights while others escaped. Agencies are reporting gunfire still comiung from the school compound.

Reporters at the scene said they saw about 100 corpses on the floor of the school's sports hall where many of the hostages were held.


For full coverage on the recent wave of terror attacks in Russia, see RFE/RL's webpage on "Terror In Russia".