Source Pravda.Ru

Russian prosecutors' probe clears authorities over Beslan school siege

Russia

Results of a probe into the raid that killed 331 hostages at a school in the southern Russian town of &to=http://english.pravda.ru/accidents/21/96/382/14074_lessons.html' target=_blank>Beslan suggest police and security forces bore no blame for the deaths, a top official said Tuesday _ a finding that fueled anger among victims' relatives.

The probe had so far uncovered no mistakes in the authorities' handling of the crisis, said Deputy Prosecutor General Nikolai Shepel, who leads an investigation by prosecutors into the September 2004 raid.

A reconstruction of the events established that police and other security forces involved in the rescue operation were not to blame, he said in comments released by his office.

The statements, which came a day before the Russian parliament was to release results of its own investigation, stoked the simmering ire of Beslan residents who have accused the authorities of incompetence and mounting a cover-up.

"We didn't expect anything else _ the prosecutors are sticking to their version of events and ignoring victims' testimony," Susanna Dudiyeva, head of the Beslan Mothers' Committee, told The Associated Press.

Militants attacked Beslan's School No. 1 on Sept. 1, 2004 _ the first day of school _ taking more than 1,100 children, parents and staff hostage and herding them into the gymnasium, which they rigged with explosives.

Most of the hostages who died _ including 186 children _ were killed in the explosions and gunfire that ended the three-day drama.