Fri, Apr 14, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Court says Russian Beslan response had serious failings

AFP, STRASBOURG, France

The European Court of Human Rights yesterday ruled that there were “serious failings” in Russia’s handling of the Beslan school siege by Chechen rebels in 2004 in which more than 330 people were killed, many of them children.

The court said that although Russian authorities had information that an attack was being planned on a school in North Ossetia, they failed to do enough to disrupt the plot and had not sufficiently protected the hostages.

Russia said the judgement was “absolutely unacceptable.”

The school was stormed on Sept. 1, 2004, by militants demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from the war-torn republic of Chechnya.

The attackers herded 1,100 people, including 800 children, into a gymnasium and rigged the building with explosives.

After three days of fruitless negotiations, explosions in the school prompted Russian security forces to storm the gymnasium.

A total of 184 children were among the 334 dead as the siege came to a bloody end.

Russian authorities say they took the best course of action, but some survivors say the security services were to blame for the firefight.

“The authorities had been in possession of sufficiently specific information of a planned terrorist attack in the area, linked to an educational institution,” the court said. “Nevertheless, not enough had been done to disrupt the terrorists meeting and preparing.”

The judges found that “insufficient steps had been taken to prevent [the attackers] traveling on the day of the attack; security at the school had not been increased; and neither the school nor the public had been warned of the threat.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia found it “impossible” to agree with the wording of the judgement.

“Such phrasing for a country that has suffered an attack is absolutely unacceptable,” he told reporters.

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