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Russians Rally Against Terrorism

7 September 2004 -- Tens of thousands of people attended rallies in Moscow and other Russian cities today to protest terrorism as funerals for the victims of a school siege continued in Beslan, North Ossetia.

Officials said some 130,000 people gathered outside the Kremlin in Moscow, responding to government calls for unity. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov told participants the tragedy has strengthened Russians' will to win the fight against terror.

"Pain and anxiety brought us together today at the largest rally in recent years," Luzhkov said. "But it is not only pain and anxiety, but also our will -- our will to win."

In the North Ossetian capital of Vladikavkaz, thousands protested against terror but also called for the resignation of local leaders over their handling of the crisis.

More than 330 people, half of them children, were killed as the three-day hostage-taking crisis ended on 3 September in a chaotic rescue operation.

President Vladimir Putin has said his government will conduct an internal investigation but no public probe into the hostage-taking crisis. Putin today postponed a planned visit to Germany due to the Beslan tragedy.

(news agencies/BBC)