The former head of the FSB in North Ossetia says the Beslan rescue operation got off to a slow start (AFP)
16 December 2005 -- The former head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in Russia's southern republic of North Ossetia today said the crisis center set up to deal with last year's Beslan school hijacking remained directionless for nearly 24 hours.
Valery Andreyev made his comments while testifying at the trial of Nurpashi Kulayev, the man authorities say is the only survivor of the armed group responsible for the hostage crisis.
On 1 September 2004, armed militants with alleged links to the Chechen separatist leadership seized Beslan's School Number One and took 1,000 hostages. The three-day crisis ended with a Russian security assault and the death of 330 people. Survivors say the rescue operation is the main reason for the heavy death toll.
Andreyev told North Ossetia's Supreme Court that the decision to use heavy weapons during the assault was made by the head of the FSB’s antiterrorism center, Aleksandr Tikhonov.
A special webpage devoted to the first anniversary of the tragedy at Beslan.