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