Hundreds Held Hostage at School in Russia

原创 2004年09月03日 02:52:00

Hundreds Held Hostage at School in Russia

Many Children Seized In Town Near Chechnya

By Peter Baker and Susan B. Glasser

Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, September 2, 2004; Page A01

BESLAN, Russia, Sept. 2 -- Heavily armed guerrillas, some of them wearing explosive belts, stormed into a school in southern Russia near the separatist region of Chechnya on Wednesday morning and took several hundred students, teachers and parents hostage after a deadly shootout.

Striking right after opening-day ceremonies for the new academic year, the attackers threatened to blow up the school if the Russian government attempted to retake it and said they would execute 50 hostages for every one of their own killed.

As many as seven adults died in an initial shootout at School No. 1 in the North Ossetian town of Beslan, just west of the Chechen border, authorities said. Gunfire and explosions rang out in the area throughout the day and into the night, after Russian troops surrounded the school.

The raid came as Russians were still absorbing the carnage of three other bombings elsewhere in the country during the past week -- the downing of two airliners and a suicide attack in Moscow that together killed about 100 people. Russian authorities have blamed Chechen separatists for those attacks.

Nearly 24 hours into the siege in Beslan, anxious parents continued to hold vigil at the local House of Culture. The auditorium there was a study in a state of grief, with deadened, drawn faces of women who had cried themselves out and men bristling with barely suppressed anger. Some families had four or five children at the school; an 11-month-old was also on the list circulating among the parents. As many as 885 children are registered at the school, which comprises Grades 1 through 11.

Just before news of the school seizure broke, President Vladimir Putin said Chechen terrorists linked to al Qaeda were responsible for the recent outbreak of violence and vowed not to negotiate with them. "We shall fight against them, throw them in prisons and destroy them," he said before flying back to Moscow from vacation on the Black Sea for the second time in a week.

"War has been declared on us," added Putin's defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, "where the enemy is unseen and there is no front."

At Russia's request, the U.N. Security Council called an emergency meeting Wednesday in New York to discuss the latest spasm of Chechen-related terrorism. At the meeting, the council condemned "in the strongest terms" the attack on the school and demanded "the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages." President Bush phoned Putin to offer support and told him the United States was fighting "side by side" with Russia in the war on terror, Bush spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.

By nightfall, the town of Beslan, with a population of 30,000, had settled into a tense standoff, with the school surrounded by hundreds of Russian troops, armored vehicles and parents desperate for information about their children trapped inside. But there was no encouraging news for them, just a police officer who told the frantic relatives via bullhorn about the hostage takers' demands.

"The only thing they said was that they would kill 50 hostages for each one of them killed, 20 for each wounded. If the storming begins, the whole school would be blown up. That's all we can say for the moment," the officer said on the bullhorn in a scene later broadcast on television across Russia.

The attack began about 9 a.m. when a large group of guerrillas rolled up in a military-style truck and charged into the school as the opening-day ceremony was ending in the gym. At least two of the attackers were women wearing explosive belts. Some local police immediately resisted the intruders, exchanging fire with them.

Taimuraz Pukhayev, who lives across from the school, saw the attack start. His wife had just taken his three children -- ages 7, 11, and 12 -- to class when he heard shooting. He ran outside and saw about half a dozen camouflage-clad guerrillas and two women rushing toward the building. "I saw them breaking the doors, the windows. I heard children screaming," he said. Then a guerrilla with an automatic rifle started shooting at him. "They shot at me, then they noticed [a neighbor] and shot at him. I saw him bleeding from the head." The neighbor later died.

Some children ran to safety in the initial confusion. "I thought it was a joke, but they began to shoot in the air and we ran," said one breathless boy shown on Russia's NTV television network.

For Elza Baskayeva, editor of the local newspaper, a fearful wait began when she heard shooting and called her 27-year-old daughter, who was at the school taking pictures for the paper. "She was crying, 'They are shooting! They are shooting! We are on the second floor.' And then I lost the connection," Baskayeva said in a telephone interview. Baskayeva went to her office a few hundred yards away and learned that two other employees and their children had also been taken hostage.

Soldiers surrounded the school within an hour, she said.

By midafternoon, about 15 children whose teacher had hidden them in the boiler room had run to safety, Baskayeva said, but there was no word on the others.

At the House of Culture, "the parents were very mad. They are saying that the militia is not protecting us all," she said.

"No one gives us real information, that's the most terrible thing," said Madina Gulyarova, 39, who had a 10-year-old nephew in the school. "We see on TV that the whole world supports us. But nobody from our authorities will speak to us."

Svetlana Kaitova barely held back tears as she talked about her 22-year-old daughter, who had started her teaching job that morning. "When I woke up this morning, I was such a happy mother. I gave education to my children, they were all working, and now look what's happened," she said.

Lev Dzugaev, spokesman for the emergency headquarters, said authorities had managed to establish phone contact with the hostage takers only Wednesday evening. "We hope we will be able to conduct negotiations and we will learn what they really want," he said by telephone from Beslan. At least initially, he said, they did not make specific demands.

But Putin's top aide for Chechnya, Aslanbek Aslakhanov, told Russian reporters that they demanded an immediate Russian withdrawal from Chechnya and the release of guerrillas captured during a raid this summer in the neighboring region of Ingushetia. He said they asked to negotiate directly with the presidents of Ingushetia and North Ossetia, as well as a children's physician, Leonid Roshal, who acted as a mediator during the 2002 siege of a Moscow theater by Chechen rebels.

When the president of Ingushetia did not show up, the hostage takers refused to see Roshal, though he was in telephone contact with them, officials said.

Early Thursday morning, as a heavy mist settled around the school, Lt. Gen. Kazbek Dzantiyev was confronted by angry parents he tried to placate by saying, "We're not going to hide anything from you." The head of the local interior ministry, Dzantiyev said there were 400 children and an unknown number of adults taken hostage by as many as 40 terrorists. A local police officer was under investigation, he said, for helping the hostage takers, who included Chechens, Russians, Ingush and Ossetians.

But official figures varied for how many people had been taken hostage; Dzugaev said it was 354, of whom approximately half were children. He said four to seven civilians were confirmed dead in the initial seizure. Russian news agencies said as many as 11 died.

Officials said the hostage takers were refusing to allow any food or drink for the children.

To many Russians, the day's events were a shocking echo of similar seizures by Chechen rebels that resulted in mass civilian casualties.

In 1995, during the first post-Soviet war in Chechnya, more than 100 civilians died as rebels seized a hospital in the town of Budennovsk. After five days, President Boris Yeltsin allowed the guerrillas to leave in exchange for freeing their captives.

Two years ago, Putin took a different tack when Chechen rebels took over a Moscow theater during the popular musical "Nord-Ost." After a 57-hour standoff, Putin ordered the theater stormed, and 129 hostages died as a result of the knockout gas used by authorities.

"Unfortunately, there are only two scenarios in Russia," said Aleksandr Golts, a military expert. "The first is Budennovsk: give permission to the terrorists to go where they want and accept this shame. That's how Yeltsin behaved. The other variant is 'Nord-Ost' -- poison gas, storm and everything. That's how Putin behaves."

Glasser reported from Moscow.



absorbing
[ab·sorb || ?b's??b]
adj
引人注意的
an absorbing novel
一本非常吸引人的小说

carnage
[car·nage || 'kɑ?n?d?]
 n.
Massive slaughter, as in war; a massacre.
 大屠杀大规模杀戮,如战争中的大屠杀;屠宰
Corpses, especially of those killed in battle.
 尸体尤指战争中被杀者的尸体

vigil
[vig·il || 'v?d??l]
 n.
A watch kept during normal sleeping hours.
 守夜,值夜在正常睡眠时间里的监视

drawn
 adj.
Haggard, as from fatigue or ill health:
 憔悴的憔悴的,如因疲劳或身体不好引起的:
a wan, drawn face.
一张苍白而憔悴的脸

bristle
 [bris·tle || 'br?sl]
n.刚毛, 猪鬃
vi.(毛发等)竖起, 发怒

seizure
(seiz[e]抓住;夺取+-ure名词后缀
[sei·zure || 's????(r)]
n
占有;强占
(疾病)发作

spasm
['spæzm]
 n.
A sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles.
 痉挛肌肉或肌肉群突然的、不自觉的收缩
A sudden burst of energy, activity, or emotion.
 突发,阵作能量、活动、或感情的突然迸发

frantic
[fran·tic || 'frænt?k]
 adj.
Highly excited with strong emotion or frustration; frenzied:
 发狂似的由于强烈的情感或巨大的挫折而高度兴奋的:
frantic with worry.
焦急得发狂

storming 
n. act of forcefully assaulting, act of attacking with sudden force

clad
[klæd]
 v.
A past tense and a past participle of clothe
 clothe的过去式和过去分词

clad
adj
穿着的;被覆盖的
warmly clad
穿得暖和的
a motorcyclist clad in leather
一这穿着皮外套的摩托车手
The woods on the mountain sides were clad in mist.
高山坡上的小树林都笼罩在一片薄雾中。

camouflage
[cam·ou·flage || 'kæm?flɑ??]
 n.
The method or result of concealing personnel or equipment from an enemy by making them appear to be part of the natural surroundings.
 伪装,掩饰通过使人或设施看起来像自然环境的一部分来隐藏他们不被敌人觉察的方法或结果
Fabric or a garment dyed in splotches of green, brown, tan, and black so as to make the wearer indistinguishable from the surrounding environment.
 迷彩服将织物或衣物染成有绿色、棕色、褐色和黑色的斑纹,从而使穿戴者不易被从周围环境中区分开来

midafternoon
adj. occurring between noon and evening, taking place between approximately 2 and 4 o'clock
mid+afternoon
n.下午三时左右

militia
[mi·li·tia || m?'l???]
 n.abbr:mil.
An army composed of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers.
 民兵组织由普通公民而非职业士兵组成的部队
A military force that is not part of a regular army and is subject to call for service in an emergency.
 预备役部队不作为正规军的一部分,准备在紧急情况下服役的武装力量

tack
 [tæk]
n
平头钉,大头钉
a carpet tack
地毯钉
Hammered a tack into the wall and hung a small picture from it.
用锤子往墙上钉上一颗钉子,在上面挂一幅小画。
抢风行驶,Z字形航行
We sailed on an easter tack.
我们向东抢风行驶。
Get through a dense crowd in a series of tacks.
东弯西拐地穿过密集的人群。
假缝,粗缝
to put a few tacks in
粗略地缝上几针
行动方针;策略
Since they had failed to persuade the unions, the government tried the new tack of forcing them to agree.
自从对工会的劝说失败后,政府试图使用新的策略强迫他们同意。

tack
vt, vi
(常与down连用)用大头钉钉住
I tacked the carpet down; she tacked the material together.
我钉牢地毯,她把东西缝起来。
抢风行驶,作Z字形航行
The boat tacked into harbor.
小船作Z字形驶入港口。
(与to, on, on to连用)附加,添上,补充
She tacked a ribbon on to her hat.
她在帽子上添缝了一条饰带。
假缝,粗缝
to use a tacking stitch
用粗针脚


knockout
adj.
击昏的, 击倒的
引人注目的, 轰动的
使昏迷的
a knockout blow
使人昏倒的一击, 压倒性的一击

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