There’s an old joke about Russian CT:
It’s only funny because it’s true. But the truth itself is anything but funny.
Thursday marked the anniversary of Day 1 of the Beslan School Massacre. For a number of reasons, this incident ranks in the Win-Place-Show range of my list of terrorist attacks prosecuted against anyone, anywhere. If you’ve never heard about it, you’re about to…
Beslan, North Ossetia-Alania, (an autonomous republic in the North Caucasus region), Russia Federation
~0930 1 September 2004 – ~1700 3 September 2004 (Charlie Time Zone, UTC+3, Moscow Time)
“School Number One” (SNO)
Type of Attack:
Hostage related terrorist attack
385+ dead (numbers are foggy here due to reporting)
~783 wounded (same here)
Riyadus-Salikhin (Chechen-run “The Martyr Battalion”)
The Beslan School Massacre (also known as the Beslan School Hostage Crisis or Beslan School Seige) started on 1 September 2004. It lasted three days and involved more than 1,000 hostages (777 of which were school children). It ended with a botched assault, a massive fire, and the deaths of nearly 400 people (including three assault team commanders and 186 children).
The siege began when an armed group of mostly Ingush and Chechen men and women occupied School Number One (SNO). The hostage-takers (whose exact numbers are still unknown) were sent by the Chechen Shamil Basayev, who was fighting for the Russian withdrawal from, and recognition of an independent, Chechnya. On the evening of the third day, Russian security forces stormed the building. The assault included the use of armor, rockets, and heavy weapons.
Beslan is a town of around 35,000 people. SNO was one of seven schools in town. Faculty and staff numbered approximately 60. There were more than 800 registered students. The campus itself was located next to the district police office. The school grounds consisted of a number of buildings, including a gymnasium, where most of the hostages were held (and where the siege was focused).
Although the attack itself began on 1 September, survivors have testified they were forced to help the terrorists remove weapons from caches throughout the school. The subsequent investigation also found that a sniper’s nest on the roof had been set up in advance.
The following installment will cover the full timeline of the siege.
Featured image courtesy of CNN