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Russia Begins Two Days Of National Mourning


http://gdb.rferl.org/9AC98FF8-6943-4F99-A92A-0D3FF25833E0_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/9AC98FF8-6943-4F99-A92A-0D3FF25833E0_mw800_mh600.jpg Relatives bury one of the children killed in Beslan 6 September 2004 -- Russians began two days of mourning for at least 335 people killed in last week's bloody school siege in the southern city of Beslan.

Earlier, officials aid 338 people were killed. Authorities say 377 people remain under medical care, with 55 people in serious condition. Many are reported missing.

On 3 September, Russian security forces stormed the school to end the crisis that began two days before.

Today, many questions remain unanswered, including who the hostage takers were and what prompted Russian forces to storm the school when they did. Authorities have been heavily criticized for the large loss of life.

Russian television yesterday broadcast an interview with an unidentified man authorities say was one of the hostage takers. In the interview, the man expresses regret for the incident. "I swear to Allah, I pitied the children," he said. "I didn't shoot. I have kids myself. I swear to Allah. I didn't shoot. I swear I didn't shoot."

Flags are flying at half-mast today, the first day of two days of national mourning. Entertainment programs will not be broadcast on television.

(dpa/AFP)

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