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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 September, 2004, 00:59 GMT 01:59 UK
As it happened: Russian school siege
BBC News Online documents events as they unfolded at the besieged school in the southern Russian town of Beslan, where gunmen held hundreds of adults and children hostage for three days before the crisis ended in bloody chaos.

All times GMT


2030: More than 200 people are now known to have died, Interfax quotes a health ministry source as saying.

1940: Special forces say operation at school is complete.

1830: Most hostage-takers have been killed or captured, the military head of operations in Beslan, General Viktor Sobolev, tells Russian TV.

1808: Three hostage-takers reported captured alive.

1720: The bodies of 79 victims have been identified, says a North Ossetian security official.

1700: Emergencies ministry official says 646 people, including 227 children, are in hospital, reports Itar-Tass news agency.

1608: Interfax news agency cites presidential aide as saying total number of hostages held in school may have been as many as 1,200.

1605: Explosion heard again in school vicinity.

1540: The bodies of sixty victims of the siege have been identified.

1530: Officials say the death toll could be much higher than 150.

1520: Presidential adviser Aslambek Aslakhanov says that there were at least nine Arabs among the hostage-takers.

1514: Officials say that some children are still being held hostage.

1450: Interfax reports three rebels have blockaded themselves into Russian school basement, possibly including head hostage-taker.

1440: Regional emergency officials confirm that there are at least 100 dead bodies in the school gym.

1430: There are reports that gunmen are still firing from the school.

1407: Interfax reports that 10 of the hostage-takers were killed in shoot-outs.

1345: Interfax reports that more than 100 bodies have been found in the school gym.

1330: Russian security services say their assault on the school had not been planned.

1322: More than 400 people have been injured during the siege, officials say.

1311: Interfax news agency reports that dozens were killed when the school roof collapsed earlier.

1305: Dozens of dead bodies are reported to have been seen inside the school gym.

1250: Army brings in "huge" pile of body bags, a BBC correspondent reports.

1218: At least seven dead, reports Itar-Tass.

1207: Gunfire and explosions can be heard in the vicinity of the school.

1203: Twenty seriously wounded children have been evacuated from the town for treatment, Itar-Tass reports citing health officials.

1200: Interfax reports that the five dead bodies are those of children.

1153: Regional emergency officials say 250 hostages wounded, including 180 children, the Associated Press reports.

1150: At least five bodies covered in white sheets are lying outside the school.

1145: BBC correspondent says it appears that many children are still unaccounted for despite claims that all have been evacuated from building.

1140: Gunfire continues to be heard from the school.

1125: Russian news agencies say security forces are attacking house where rebels are thought to be hiding.

1120: Reports that 13 gunmen have barricaded themselves into a house in Beslan.

1115: Interfax news agency reports all hostages have been taken out of the school.

1108: At least three dead bodies have been removed from the school, agencies report.

1105: Explosions and gunfire continue in the vicinity of the school.

1100: There is speculation that fleeing hostage-takers may have taken some children with them.

1055: Convoys of cars and ambulances arrive at the school to ferry the wounded away.

1050: There are reports that the rebels are trying to escape from the city.

1045: Russian news agency Itar-Tass says the noise is the sound of soldiers blowing holes in walls to allow hostages to escape.

1040: Loud explosions are once again reported at the school.

1030: Some 158 children are reported to be in hospital.

1028: Witnesses see paramedics enter building with stretchers.

1015: Reports say that five of the hostage-takers have been killed.

1013: Interfax news agency quotes Russian official as saying that most of the hostages are alive.

1005: Russian army commanders report that their troops are nearly in full control of the building.

0958: There are reports that Russian special forces have entered the school.

0953: Another large explosion is heard.

0946: Some of the hostage-takers reportedly try to leave the building.

0931: Ambulances start ferrying the wounded away. An emergency military hospital has been set up near the school.

0930: School roof is reported to have collapsed.

0925: Four helicopters are seen hovering over the school.

0914: A group of about 30 hostages escape from the school. Some of the children are covered in blood.

0905: Two loud explosions occur - it is thought shortly after vehicles arrive to remove the bodies of those killed earlier. Automatic gunfire is then heard near the school. Heavily armed soldiers are seen running towards the building.

0849: Agreement is reached with the rebels to send vehicles to remove those killed earlier.


1240: Following negotiations with former Ingush President Ruslan Aushev, the attackers release 26 women and children.

1100: President Putin says the main aim is to save the lives of the hostages, and adds that the security forces will make every effort to ensure that no lives are put at risk.

1000: Ruslan Aushev, Afghan war hero and former president of neighbouring Ingushetia region, holds talks with hostage-takers in school gym.

0900: Russian authorities rule out the use of force to end the siege.


2300: The attackers end contact with Dr Leonid Roshal - a negotiator during an earlier siege - no agreement is reached.

2130: Dr Roshal begins talks with the armed group.

2000: One of the attackers tells the New York Times that they belong to a militant organisation called Riyadh al-Salihin, led by Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev.

1250: A presidential aide says that the hostage-takers are demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya as well as the other demands reported earlier.

1030: Reports say the attackers are threatening to kill 50 hostages for each killed member of the group.

0900: President Vladimir Putin breaks off his holiday and returns to Moscow for an emergency meeting on the siege.

0840: The attackers demand the release of fighters seized in neighbouring Ingushetia in June during a raid on the region, Itar-Tass news agency reports.

0750: Reports say the attackers are threatening to blow up the school if troops try to storm the building. They are said to have sent the authorities a note with a woman hostage whom they released. In it they demand that two regional leaders and Dr Roshal be summoned for talks.

At the same time, the attackers are reported to be placing children on display at the windows of the building as human shields.

0530: Masked men and women, wearing bomb belts, burst into Beslan's School Number One, opening fire in the courtyard as a ceremony marking the beginning of the school year is finishing. Reports say they arrived from neighbouring Ingushetia in a hijacked Gaz-66 military lorry and police car.

Children and adults are then forced by the attackers into the school gym and the building is reportedly mined.

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