Dawn rousted them from their sleep, the forest encampment providing a peaceful respite from the constant movement of the past days. They were close to their objective and readying themselves for the moment to depart and strike fear into the conscious of a nation.

The group was small. 32 members attired in the green leafy camouflage of the Russian army. But these were not Russian, an enemy they despised. These were Ingush and Chechen guerillas, a faction of fighters dedicated to the same goal for a land called Chechnya… Islamic independence and control of the region from Mother Russia… whatever the cost may be.

And today, September 1, 2004, as they made final checks of their weapons and explosives, they pulled black and camouflage balaclavas down over their heads, and prepared to bring the boiling conflict of their homeland to the most innocent of all…

Comintern Street SNO was a school of about 800 students and 60 teachers. It was located in the town of Beslan of North Ossetia in the Russian Caucasus. September 1st is the traditional start of the school year, the ‘Day Of Knowledge’ as it is called, complete with festivities, and this day found hundreds of pre-teen children along with hundreds more parents filtering into the gymnasium to take part in the events.