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August 28, 2006 -- A member of the Russian parliamentary commission investigating the 2004 Beslan hostage crisis says it may be federal forces, and not the militants orchestrating the siege, who started the final battle that claimed the vast majority of victims.
Yury Savelyev, an explosives expert and a Duma deputy with the Motherland (Rodina) party, says in a report published today in the "Novaya gazeta" weekly that forensic evidence suggests the battle may have been started by Russian soldiers firing rocket grenades from a building across from the school that was the site of the hostage siege.
Some federal investigators say it was the detonation of bombs planted inside the school by the hostage takers that caused a massive fire and sparked a gun battle in which the majority of the 330-plus siege victims were killed. Members of the investigating commission called Savelyev's report a "deliberate falsification."
The report comes just days before the second anniversary of the September 1-3 siege.
Alla Katsanty reflects on May 17, 2006, at the grave of her daughter, who was killed during the Beslan hostage taking (epa)
A video presentation on a UNESCO project to help survivors cope:
SURVIVING THE HORROR: More than 330 people died in the Beslan tragedy, more than half of them children. Before the bloody end of the standoff, victims endured three days of terror with almost no food, water, or medical attention. In the years since, victims, locals, Russia, and the world have all struggled to make sense of one of the most horrific events of modern times.
Beslan, Russia, Pay Homage To Victims
Beslan Youth Use Photographs To Tell Their Stories
Beslan Play Rocks Moscow Theaters
An archive of RFE/RL's coverage of Beslan and its aftermath.