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Beslan bereaved ... and questions remain -

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ELEANOR HALL: Five years ago a horrific event pushed a small Russian community into the global
headlines.

In Beslan, in September 2004, hundreds of children were killed when a siege in their school ended
in a shootout between the hostage takers and Russian forces.

More than 330 of the 1,000 hostages held by the Chechen rebels died and the people of the community
still haven't been told who ordered the Russian tanks to fire on the school.

This report from Moscow correspondent Scott Bevan.

SCOTT BEVAN: Across Russia, it's been the day of knowledge, the day when students return to school
for the New Year, but not in Beslan.

(Sound of crying)

In this southern Russian town, it's been a day of mourning, as hundreds have returned to the ruins
of school number one to remember what happened here five years ago.

(Sound of Russian man speaking)

"It was horrible, it was impossible," this former police officer recalls.

On September 1st 2004, a terrorist group demanding an end to the war in nearby Chechnya entered the
school and took more than 1,100 children, teachers and parents hostage. The siege shocked the
world. Tanya Lokshina is a researcher for the organisation Human Rights Watch.

TANYA LOKSHINA: What made Beslan especially heinous is that the attack was deliberately targeted
against the most vulnerable group ever, that is against children.

SCOTT BEVAN: Less than three days later, Russian special forces stormed the school, a battle raged
and by the time it was over at least 331 hostages were dead, including 186 children.

Mairbek Tuayev's wife, son and twin daughters were caught up in the siege, one of his girls was
killed.

MAIRBEK TUAYEV (translated): Although they say time cures everything, from my point of view, that's
not the case. When I look at one daughter - considering they were twins - I immediately imagine the
second one, who we lost. I just don't know what to say.

SCOTT BEVAN: Many of the survivors and victims' families remain not only grief-stricken but angry.
They say so many questions about the siege, the way authorities responded and how it ended as a
massacre remain unanswered.

And they argue the Federal Government is unwilling to hold a full and proper investigation to
answer those questions or to even listen to their cries for better medical and financial support
for survivors.

Ella Kesayeva is the head of a support group formed by victims' families, Voice of Beslan.

ELLA KESAYEVA (translated): With five years having passed, we realise that we - the victims of
terrorism - have turned out to be lost, we're ignored by the state. We've become outcasts.

SCOTT BEVAN: This region of Russia remains highly volatile, areas close to Beslan, such as
Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, have experienced a surge in violence recently.

Human Rights Watch's Tanya Lokshina says with security deteriorating and terrorist acts increasing
in the North Caucasus region there is the possibility of another massacre like the one that tore
apart Beslan.

TANYA LOKSHINA: Most unfortunately, in the current situation, it does seem to be possible, and this
prospect is indeed very frightening.

SCOTT BEVAN: As they lay flowers before photos of their children during the service, the people of
Beslan pray that no one else experiences what they've had to endure, for such an appalling loss of
life leaves far more than a school in ruins.

This is Scott Bevan in Moscow for The World Today.