Beslan school headmaster tells of three days of nightmare

Packs of explosives were hanging everywhere in the gym

”On the first day, when they gathered us, they treated us well, they let children drink water and go to the bathroom. They held a lot of children hostage, a lot of children came to school to celebrate the start of the new school year. There were about 1300 people in the gymnasium. I do not understand, why the authorities thought about 350 hostages at school.”

”Packs of explosives were hanging everywhere in the gym. They were hanging there from the very first day of the crisis. The terrorists were speaking Russian with each other, but they had an accent. I figured that the terrorists, who were watching us, could come either from Chechnya, or Ingushetia,” Lydia Tsalieva said.

”On the second day they started shooting. They told me to establish order in the gym and calm the children down. Otherwise, they said, they would not let them drink water and go to the bathroom.”

Lydia said that the terrorists eventually ordered everyone not to move at all. “They gave us three buckets and told us to manage as we could. The children thought they would go crazy. They thought they would be gassed – the stench was unbearable. The terrorists were kicking the children.”

According to Lydia Tsalieva, the hostage-takers announced their requirement very quickly. They demanded Russian troops should be withdrawn from Chechnya. The terrorists asked the headmaster to contact Doctor Leonid Roshal, one of the negotiators. Lydia Tsalieva called the special headquarters to talk to the pediatrician.

The tense atmosphere at school aggravated on the third day of the crisis. Tsalieva was wounded in her right leg with the first blast. “When I came to my senses, I saw there were fewer children and adults left in the gym. The ceiling was burning. I got stuck between two desks. I saw a terrorists shooting near me. He looked at me and waved off to me. I do not know, how I managed to get out of there.”

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Author`s name Olga Savka