Mothers of Beslan fly to Russian president

Mothers who lost children in the Beslan school siege were to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday to ask why, a year on, no one has been punished for the official incompetence they say made the bloodshed worse.

The meeting between Putin and members of the outspoken Beslan Mothers' Committee was taking place a year and a day after the start of the three-day hostage crisis that left 331 people half of them children dead.

"We will talk about the need ... to punish the guilty and the need to tell the whole world the truth about what happened in Beslan," head of the committee, Susanna Dudiyeva, said on Friday as she boarded a plane for Moscow, reports Reuters.

Mr Putin's decision to schedule the meeting during three days of national mourning in North Ossetia has attracted further criticism.

Members of the committee are bitter that they are being forced to leave the scene of the commemorations and the Kremlin has been accused of trying to deflect media attention from the ceremonies.

"We are putting our pain and sense of insult to one side for the sake of our cause," explained Ms Dudiyeva, who lost her 13-year-old son Zaur in the school seizure.

Other members of the mothers' committee stayed behind in Beslan, refusing to engage in what they describe as a PR stunt by the Kremlin. "We are protesting by our absence," one mother told the BBC.

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