Russia ‘Failed to Prevent’ 2004 Beslan Siege

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russian authorities not only failed to prevent the deadly Beslan school siege in 2004, but failed to limit the number of casualties by using excessive force to end the hostage situation. About 330 people died in the attack, including 186 children, when Chechen rebels clad in masks and bomb belts took at least 1,000 hostages at Beslan’s School Number One and engaged in a firefight with authorities. The rebels demanded that Russian troops pull out of Chechnya. The court ruled that Russian officials had information in advance that an attack was being planned in the area but did nothing to prevent it. Officials should have increased security at the school or warned the public, the court said. What’s more, the operation to release hostages used “powerful weapons such as tank cannon, grenade launchers, and flame-throwers,” which led to many unnecessary deaths.