Skip to comments.Accidental Explosion Started Panic That Led to Bloody End to Hostage Standoff
Posted on 09/08/2004 5:20:20 AM PDT by ohioconservative
MOSCOW (AP) - The militants who raided a school in southern Russia last week were led by a man dubbed the Colonel, who enforced obedience by killing three fellow attackers - two by detonating the explosives they had strapped to their bodies.
Two days later, the attackers were moving the explosives they rigged around the gym where hundreds of hostages were held, and a bomb went off accidentally. That began the spiral of panic that led to the bloody conclusion of the standoff, in which more than 320 people were killed.
Those details were among several disclosed by Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov on Wednesday, in the government's first formal attempt to account for the tragedy last week. It came as Russia offered more than $10 million for information that helps "neutralize" two well-known rebel leaders from breakaway Chechnya accused of planning the attack.
Meanwhile, a military official echoed President Bush's advocacy of pre-emptive military actions to counter terror threats, asserting Russia's right to strike terrorists the world over.
"As for carrying out preventive strikes against terrorist bases, we will take all measures to liquidate terrorist bases in any region of the world," Col.-Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the Russian General Staff, told reporters Wednesday.
Ustinov, who met with President Vladimir Putin, said 326 hostages had been killed and 727 wounded in the attack, which ended Friday in a wave of explosions and gunfire as hostages tried to flee, and special forces and armed civilians tried to help them. He said 210 of the bodies had been identified, and forensic workers were also trying to identify 32 body fragments. The death toll could rise, Ustinov said.
Various officials had previously leaked some details of the investigation, but the government had not set out its own version of events until now.
The approximately 30 attackers, including two women, had gathered in a forest early on the morning of Sept. 1 and arrived at School No. 1 in Beslan in a military-type truck and two jeeps, packed with weapons and ammunition, Ustinov said.
They herded people who had gathered to mark the first day of school to the gym. Some of the militants objected to seizing a school, and their leader, who went by the name Colonel, shot one of them. He said he would do the same to any other militants or hostages who did not show "unconditional obedience."
Later that day, he detonated the explosives worn by two female attackers, killing them, to enforce the lesson, Ustinov said.
One of the militants was stationed with his foot on a button that would set off the explosives, Ustinov said; if he lifted his foot, the bombs strung up around the school gymnasium would detonate, he said.
On Friday, the militants decided for unknown reasons to reposition the explosives, and apparently set off one bomb by mistake, Ustinov said. That sparked panic, as hostages tried to flee, and the attackers opened fire.
That led Russian forces to storm the building.
Ustinov said his information was based on interviews with witnesses and the one alleged attacker who has been confirmed detained, identified as Nur-Pashi Kulayev. Officials believe the attack in the city of Beslan was orchestrated by militants from breakaway Chechnya.
Ustinov's deputy, Sergei Fridinsky, said that the bodies of 12 of the attackers had been identified, and that some of them had taken part in a June attack in the neighboring Russian republic of Ingushetia that targeted police and killed 88 people.
Some 1,200 hostages had been taken at the school, Ustinov said. It was the first official admission that the number of hostages had been so high; initially the government said about 350 people had been seized, and over the weekend a regional official said the number had been 1,181.
Ustinov's report came as the Federal Security Service, the main successor to the KGB, offered more than $10 million for information leading to the arrests of Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov.
The FSB said they had been responsible for "inhuman terrorist acts on the territory of the Russian Federation."
Maskhadov, the former president of Chechnya, had denied any involvement in the school standoff, according to aides. There has been no word from Basayev, a longtime rebel warlord who had claimed involvement in bloody raids and hostage takings in the past.
On Tuesday, Russians got a horrifying glimpse of the drama from video footage filmed by the militants who captured the school. The images, aired on a Russian television station, showed the heavily armed, hooded assailants amid the crowd of women, children and men in the school in Beslan.
The NTV station said the pictures - which showed hundreds of people crowded into the gym beneath a string of explosives dangling from a basketball hoop - were recorded by the assailants.
Hundreds of hostages were shown seated in the school's cramped gym. Many of them had their hands behind their heads. A thick streak of blood stained the wood floor.
Football-sized bundles of explosives were attached to wires and strings hanging from a basketball hoop. One attacker in camouflage and a black hood stood amid the hostages with a boot on what NTV said was a book rigged with a detonator.
Also Tuesday night, tens of thousands of people turned out at a government-backed rally in Moscow to condemn the terrorists and demand justice. Demonstrators bore banners with slogans such as "We won't give Russia to terrorists" and "The enemy will be crushed; victory will be ours." Authorities said the event drew about 130,000 people.
"I have been crying for so many days and I came here to feel that we are actually together," said Vera Danilina, 57.
The demonstration, organized by a pro-government trade union, was heavily advertised on state-controlled television for two days, with prominent *ACTORS* appealing to citizens to turn out. Banners bore the white, blue and red of Russia's flag, and speakers echoed Putin's statements that terrorists must be destroyed.
The Foreign Ministry said Russia would take new steps seeking the extradition of people it says are linked with terrorism, including Chechen rebel representatives Akhmed Zakayev and Ilyas Akhmadov.
Zakayev, an envoy for Maskhadov, has been granted refugee status in Britain. Akhmadov is in the United States.
The hostage-taking and other recent attacks "will help many in the West, where Zakayev and Akhmadov have found political asylum, to see the true face of terror and understand the measure of their delusion," the ministry said.
I was just glancing at FOX, at the footage from inside the gym, shot by the terrorists. Did I see them wiring Claymores? Wasn't sure..Not that it makes a big difference what kills you, but that's really hideous, Claymores v. children..
I don't like the idea of calling it an "accidental explosion". Accidental explosions are caused by gas leaks and the like. Premature explosion is a better word.
Personally I don't believe the terrorists had any intention of letting anyone leave alive.
Seems awfully coincidental that the bombs exploded at the exact time the TERRORISTS agreed the soldier could collect the dead bodies in the schoolyard. I'm not buying any accidental explosion.
Just like the Nazis after WWII who rushed to surrender to the Americans rather than the Russians, the islamist slaughterers may live to rue the day when they slaughtered Russian's beautiful children like animals.
Welcome to Israel's nightmare.
By the way,it's nice to see that women are good for one more thing in Islam (strong sarcasm).
I don't know whether they were claymores, but they were loaded with bolts and sharp shrapnel to make the wounding impact greater. No, AP "News", there was nothing "accidental" about the devils placing bombs around the school, nothing "ACCIDENTAL" about their raping young Christian girls in other rooms, nothing "accidental" about their shooting children for fun and then shooting them in the back when they fled after the explosion, nothing "accidental" about their shooting the parents in front of the eyes of the children, nothing "accidental" about luring tots who had stayed outside the school during the takeover in with candy and chocolate, nothing "accidental" about slapping a crying tot to death.
Only the AP and MSM can't spot what's wrong with this sentence.
Conclusion: AP harbors terrorists and is a terrorist organization.
It also left out that a third of them were Arabs. The mainstream media is very eager to present this as some kind of freedom fighter event --- it's clear they are working for the Muslim side -- the destruction of the west.
Obviously this is somehow the fault of the Russians according to the MSM --- little children hostages trying to flee being shot in the backs for the Muslims mishandling their bombs they had set up in the school.
The Colonel eh?
If anything, that could partly explain the chaotic conditions under which the Russian troops were engaged to try to secure the school. Frankly, when I read that they had a TANK crew firing at the school, then dismounting to see what all this hell was all about, I almost fell off my chair in disbelief.
Were they "accidentally" placed there?
Oh, and I guess the 1000+ hostages were taken accidentally, 20 hostages were killed in the first few hours of the stand-off accidentally, explosives were accidentally placed in the gymnasium, the hostages were accidentally bayoneted as they begged for water, and they were accidentally shot in the back as they fled when the explosives accidentally detonated at the end of the stand-off. Oh I see, this was an Associated Press article, wasn't it?
This was no little mistake. This is a glimpse at the reality of is-slime. Murderous, heartless, bloody is-slime.
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