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Special forces stormed the school and the security cordon was breached by relatives, many of them armed, who mingled with the troops running towards the buildings.

Russian President Vladimir Putin later said the decision to go in was unplanned and taken after the attackers started shooting at children.

At 1005 GMT, Russian commanders reported that their troops were nearly in full control of the building, but the gunfire continued.

At 1040 GMT, three armoured personnel carriers approached the school. Further blasts were heard.



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