Beslan Marks Anniversary Of School Hostage Tragedy
A woman cries in front of a memorial to students killed at School No.1 in Beslan, North Ossetia.
Russian troops gather outside Beslan's School No. 1.
A soldier carries a baby after the release of 26 women and children on the second day of the crisis. Officials say the hostage takers started the massacre by setting off a bomb inside the school, but many in Beslan say the soldiers provoked the battle by firing a rocket-propelled grenade at the school, causing the roof to collapse and sparking a fierce blaze.
A boy cries among other freed hostages after special forces entered the school on September 3, 2004. A number of witnesses also say they saw tanks fire on the school. Independent investigators have denounced what they say was a botched rescue operation.
A makeshift memorial wall displays photographs of many of those who died in the siege. Yury Savelyev, an explosives expert and State Duma deputy, published a report confirming the battle was triggered by soldiers firing grenades from a building across from the school.
Nur-Pashi Kulayev, the only surviving Beslan terrorist, was sentenced to life in prison on May 26, 2006. Survivors and victims' families remain embittered because only Kulayev was convicted. Three local policemen implicated in the event were also given amnesty.
Beslan relatives demonstrate outside Kulayev's trial in May 2006, holding anti-Putin placards.
Family members expressed their anger in court in 2007 after three policemen implicated in the event were given amnesty.
The gutted school gymnasium, where more than 1,000 hostages were held for days without food or water.
Mourners remember the victims at a memorial services in Beslan.
PHOTO GALLERY: On September, 1, 2004, 32 Chechen militants stormed School No. 1 in the North Ossetian town of Beslan and held 1,100 pupils, their relatives, and teachers hostage for three days. The militants demanded the withdrawal of federal forces from Chechnya. In the end, more than 330 of the hostages died, including 186 children, after a rescue attempt by Russian security forces. (RFE/RL photo archive)
The North Ossetian town of Beslan is beginning three days of mourning to mark the ninth anniversary of a school hostage taking that left 334 people -- including 186 children -- dead.
Most of the hostages that died were killed when Russian security forces stormed the school and ended the siege, which began on the first day of the new school year.
The commemoration ceremony began on September 1 with the ringing of a school bell at the ruins of School No. 1, where Chechen terrorists held some 1,200 people hostage for three days in 2004.
North Ossetia head Taimuraz Mamsurov -- who son and daughter were among the surviving hostages -- laid flowers at the site, while residents will continue the tradition of bringing bottled water and toys to the memorial site.
Security is high throughout the North Caucasus republic, with some 1,500 police deployed to Beslan alone.
Based on reporting by Interfax and ITAR-TASS