Negligence and incompetence by Russian police and officials contributed to the bloody Beslan school siege last year. That is according to the head of a parliamentary investigation, Alexander Torshin. His preliminary findings contrast with a prosecutor’s report that said security forces had made no mistakes. Torshin said local officials had been warned about the possibility of an attack.
He added that information that militants may target educational facilities on September 1 – the day the schools reopened – had been received from the Interior Ministry branch in the Republic of Ingushetia on August 29. But on September 1 only a single policewoman was posted outside the school, and she was taken hostage. Torshin also criticised the authorities for hugely under-reporting the number of hostages involved.
More than 330 people – over half of them children – died when Russian security forces attempted to end a three-day standoff in the school. Relatives of the victims and survivors have strongly criticised the rescue operation. They say many people died needlessly because soldiers used flame-throwers, grenade launchers and tanks against the militants.