Second day of hostage crisis in North Ossetia begins

Terrorists decline all offers from the special headquarters

Terrorists are holding 354 people hostage in the school of Beslan. It became possible to determine the exact number of hostages after numerous consultations with their relatives, the head of the information administration of the North Ossetian president, Lev Dzugayev said. Previous reports said 123 children among the hostages. Dzugayev added the lists of hostages would be revealed today.

According to the NTV television network, however, the number of hostages is a lot bigger: about 400 schoolchildren, their parents and teachers. No other information has been received from other sources to confirm the data.

Investigators identified several terrorists. Their names have not been exposed yet.

Hostages' relatives made a video address to Russian President Putin, Echo of Moscow radio station reports. They ask the president to execute terrorists' requirements. News agencies have not reported any other details of the video address.

The terrorists called The New York Times and said the school had been seized by the so-called Islamic Battalion of Shakhids Riyadus-Salikhin. This group was set up by the notorious Chechen gunman Shamil Basayev. According to special services, it was Basayev, who organized terrorist acts in the town of Budyonovsk in 1995 and in 2002 in Moscow.

North Ossetian Interior Minister Kazbek Dzantiyev told reporters, there were Russian nationals among the hostage-takers. “The criminal gang is supposedly a multinational group. There are Ossetian, Ingush, Chechen and Russian people in it,” the minister said.

Hostage crisis in North Ossetia: Photo gallery

The terrorists removed their masks yesterday in the evening. Specialists say it is a very disturbing gesture, which means terrorists are prepared to fight to the last drop of blood.

A criminal case has been filed on three articles of the Russian Penal Code – “murder,” “terrorism,” “hostage-taking.”

At night the terrorists agreed to conduct negotiations with prominent pediatrician Leonid Roshal. The doctor arrived in North Ossetia and talked to the gunmen on the telephone. Negotiations continued until 3 a.m., but the militants cut the connection afterwards.

The terrorists were offered to exchange children for adults. In addition, a corridor to Ingushetia and Chechnya was guaranteed for them. However, the militants declined all offers.

According to official information, seven people have been killed as a result of the hostage crisis: two police officers, who guarded the school and showed resistance to the terrorists, and five civilians. The people, who managed to flee from the school, say there are victims among the hostages too, although their number is not known. Eight wounded people stay at hospitals of North Ossetia, Interfax reports.

FSB director in North Ossetia, Valery Andreyev, says the terrorists still decline the offer of the special headquarters to supply water, food and medicines to the captives. Some hostages suffer from diabetes. The terrorists think, however, water and food might contain psychotropic substances.

The relatives of the hostages are staying near the building of the school, which the terrorists seized in the North Ossetian town of Beslan on September 1. They were staying near the cordoned area of the town all night long, hoping to receive any news about their children. The town's administration provided the relatives with food, water and medicines. Sporadic gunfire and explosions can be heard throughout the standoff, Itar-Tass reports.

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Author`s name Olga Savka