New Beslan Video May Refute Official Government Explanation

MOSCOW – Nearly three years after the Beslan hostage crisis ended in the deaths of more than 330 people, new video footage reveals that the Russian government, not the hostage-takers, may bear the responsibility for the carnage.

On Sept. 3, 2004, government officials conducted a raid on a school gymnasium where Chechen separatists held hundreds of people hostage. Subsequent explosions killed 333 people, more than half of whom were children. The official version says that an explosion from one of the separatists’ bombs caused the bloodshed.

However, the Mothers of Beslan claim they received a videotape by mail from an anonymous source that tells a different story. According to the group’s Web site, the video shows a conversation between two bomb squad officers and a law-enforcement official shortly after the incident. Officer Bagatir Nabiyev tells the official that if the bomb had exploded inside, the hostage’s bodies would be riddled with shrapnel. He adds that a hole in the wall was created by an outside explosion and explicitly states there were no explosions on the premises.

In 2006, Duma Deputy Yury Savelyev released an independent report claiming that security forces began the carnage when they fired grenades at the gymnasium.The government conducted two other investigations, both concluding that the Chechen separatists caused the explosion. Marina Litvinovich, spokeswoman for the Truth of Beslan Web site, says many pieces of similar evidence have been handed to investigators. None have changed the government’s position.

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