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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December 2004, 17:50 GMT
Russian school siege
A man carries an injured child to safety
In September more than 330 people, many of them children, were killed in a siege at a school in the Russian town of Beslan.

The siege ended when Chechen rebels opened fire on a group of fleeing hostages - prompting special forces troops to storm and secure the building in North Ossetia.

We asked readers for their reaction to the school siege.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below:

Killing women and children is just not acceptable no matter what your objective. An eye for an eye does not apply to children. I'm not sure what is more depressing, seeing these desperate acts of terrorism or seeing world leaders trying to prove it exists to get a vote instead of helping the situation. People should learn by now that violence is not solved using violence.
Jutiar, Baghdad, Iraq

It's awful that people have died, but everyone knows very well that there would be many more dead people if the storming had not taken place. God give strength to the parents whose children were there. I am praying for one thing alone: that the number of dead should be small, may they at least be alive, even if they are wounded.
Lena, Moscow

We now have reached a critical point
Vladimir, London, UK
Terrorism is the cancer of civilisation. It destroys from the inside, when the very people who make up the society start to take it apart. Like cancer it needs a different treatment. The "strength and determination" of a president does not work in this case. While the politicians are playing with guns the cancer grows. We now have reached a critical point. The West and Arab countries must put aside their differences and find a common way forward.
Vladimir, London, UK

It is a hellish situation when the most innocent and vulnerable of society become the victims of a war. Important to note that it is also a war they are not yet old enough to be conscripted into. No-one can justify the hostage taking that occurred in the Beslan school or the mayhem that followed. We must however try to understand what has driven these people to act with pure cruelty and without remorse towards a group of children. Only then can a real dialogue develop and a political solution be found. Nobody is born with a desire to kill their neighbour.
Neil Waldron, Dublin, Ireland

It has nothing to do with humanity or religion. It has everything to do with politics
Mun, Malaysia

What happened in Beslan is not a matter of lack of humanity. It has nothing to do with humanity or religion. It has everything to do with politics. From the first shot fired in the Chechen conflict until the last shot fired at Beslan, everything had to do with politics. Get the politicians out and you'll solve all world conflicts including that in the Middle East. This bloody episode will echo in the minds of those who witness it in eternity.
Mun, Malaysia

I have no doubt that the Muslim world will feel revulsion that these beasts should use the name of Allah while torturing and murdering children. It is not Islam which is at fault, nor Chechnya. It is these murderous animals who have lost any vestige of humanity to the point that they are blind to the utter, utter wickedness of such a slaughter of the innocents and the impossibility that it might in any way further their cause. They actually retard their own cause, because how could any concessions be made which might lead any other terrorist faction to suppose that this might be a useful strategy?
Frances, Bristol, UK

Why are our intelligence services always one step behind the terrorists and do not anticipate their plans?
Olga, Russia

From Why are our intelligence services always one step behind the terrorists and do not anticipate their plans? Where are the analysts and people with non-standard ways of thinking? If we are at war, why don't they teach us how to live in these conditions? I work in a hospital and every morning, when I enter the building, I think how easy it would be to take us hostage.
Olga, Russia

Rest in peace, little angels... No words can express the sorrow and the pain of this horrible outcome of the school siege.
Asta, Lithuania

Everything was done correctly... When a building is stormed like this there are always victims. Now the main thing is to take the same action against the surviving terrorists, to prevent others summoning up the courage to attack a nursery or a maternity ward.
Anton, Russia

I held my seven-month old son and cried as I watched the scenes of dazed and bloodied youngsters streaming from that school today
Jana, London, UK
I held my seven-month old son and cried as I watched the scenes of dazed and bloodied youngsters streaming from that school today. Everyone must share that revulsion and sense of a line now being crossed which should have been unthinkable. I always felt a sick dread when I heard otherwise rational people seek to justify the use of terrorist acts when they were used for a political idea they happened to favour.
Jana, London, UK

I'm bitter that our law enforcement agencies are so helpless. I am ashamed of Putin who lacks the political will to get them into order and work properly.
Nikolai, Russia

September 1st is a special day for any Russian child. Especially if they're entering first grade. I remember my first September 1st quite clearly. I know what it feels like to enter the school for the very first time and stand before the crowd of parents, teachers and older students. You go through all kinds of feelings. Confusion. Anxiety. Anticipation. I cannot imagine what it must of been like for those poor kids to have such as significant day interrupted by a gang of gun-toting terrorists. The fact that those thugs chose to attack a school on a day when they knew it would have more people then in any other time of the week sends my blood boiling. I used to think that you can't sink much lower then deliberately putting young children in harm's way. Apparently, I was wrong. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy.
Igor Studenkov, Chicago, US

This act of terrorism is directed against the whole of Russia
Dmitry, Obninsk, Russia
I feel dreadfully sorry for all victims. The children had an emotional and nervous shock, that is difficult to overcome. Terrorists taunted the hostages, they undressed them to use their clothes in order not to be notable. Among them were some women - it's terrible, they have no mother instinct. This act of terrorism is directed against the whole of Russia. Their dream is her disintegration. They and their sponsors abroad do not need a strong RUSSIA. So we shouldn't blame any nationality, WE should be just more attentive. This time the special forces prepared well for the outcome: lots of paramedics were all set. Unfortunately they are richly experienced in such situations.
Dmitry, Obninsk, Russia

Today there are rallies and condemnation of the deaths inside Russian territory, but where were these rallies and demonstrations during the siege of Groznyy and the thousands of innocents that lost their lives in the Chechen war? There weren't any. Not because the Russian people don't care, or don't value Chechen lives, but because they don't know about the war. They don't see the same pictures we see, or hear the same stories we do. The first victim of any war is the truth. Whether it be the war in Chechnya, or the Iraqi sanctions killing millions, there are some pictures and stories which will never reach the public of the offending nations. Since it is people who are dying, and not the rulers, let the people know what is going on, and let the people decide the way to peace. That used to be called democracy, today it is a naive Utopia.
Ibrahim, London, England, UK

Putin has once again shown that he has no respect for human life
Imran, Bangalore, India
Its a sad ending which I don't even think the rebels wanted. Putin has once again shown that he has no respect for human life, be it innocent children or whatever. I see no reason as to why the building was stormed. The only thing that comes to my mind is to show the ruthlessness or their military might. Innocent lives could have been saved by negotiations. Innocent children and civilians are paying the price whether it be in Afghanistan, Palestine, Chechnya or Iraq. Why? What do we want to prove? This act of desperation on part of the rebels, whoever they are, is condemnable but the blame equally lies on the Russian authorities.
Imran, Bangalore, India

It's very frightening! How are the little children who endured this horror going to get over it?! How will the parents of the dead children go on living?! And the special forces, judging by the information coming in, were unprepared. Otherwise how could the terrorists have broken through the cordon? It is completely unclear who is guilty of starting the shooting which led to the deaths of so many people.
Anna, Moscow

He should break the backs of the Chechen rebels
Harrison, Kampala, Uganda
Putin should do all that he and his government can do to restore confidence in the Russian people and avoid a chain reaction that seems to be gaining a critical mass of enormous proportions. He should break the backs of the Chechen rebels with all the might of his country and forget about the "human rights" of bandits. No kid gloves, answer fire with fire unless they surrender. Learn from Uganda's "Iron Fist Operation" against the so-called " 'Lord's' Resistance Army (LRA)" terrorists who have killed thousands in North Uganda and taken hostage thousands of other Ugandans.
Harrison, Kampala, Uganda

What Putin should do is to introduce zero tolerance to separatists. To spend extra gain from oil bucks on tightening security is real and is just a matter of political will. You may call it back to totalitarism but I am afraid you would be right only as long as such horrible events did not happen on your land.
Vladimir, St Petersburg, Russia

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