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Russian Military Denies Beslan Probe Findings

28 January 2005 -- The Russian Defense Ministry today denied allegations that the negligence of several senior army officers helped Chechen militants seize a school in Beslan last September.

The charges were made yesterday by Aleksander Torshin, the deputy speaker of the upper chamber of Russia's parliament and the head of a parliamentary commission investigating the tragedy.

Torshin said two "accomplices" of the hostage takers have been detained and that "others" would follow soon. Torshin said any official who showed "negligence" should be charged with helping the militants.

A Defense Ministry spokesperson told Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency that Torshin's accusations "do not correspond to reality."

Nearly 350 people, half of them children, died during the hostage crisis in North Ossetia that ended with a fierce gunfight. Radical Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev claimed responsibility for the school seizure.