Hundreds of BBCRussian.com readers have been expressing their reactions to the bloody climax of the Russian school siege.
A Russian soldier runs with two young girls from the school
All have expressed sadness at the plight of those injured and killed in the siege, however opinion is sharply divided over the role of the Russian special forces and the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Here is a selection of their translated comments.
What are you going to feel if someone puts a gun to the head of someone you love more than yourself? A huge desire to do something to save him? Huge anger? Hopelessness? Now all Russia is experiencing all of these feelings.
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.
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.
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.
It seems that hostages escaped themselves from the building as soon as it was possible. This was not an operation. There is no merit of the Special Forces.
As I understand, this was a reaction to a blast inside the building and the shooting of hostages. I think the Special Forces did everything right.
As long as the Russian authorities think only about their own safety, as long as corruption and economic and criminal disorder flourishes in the country, nightmares like this one will repeat themselves again and again. With great regret, one has to accept that our Special Forces showed once again their complete helplessness. Alas, we and our children have no defence, we can rely only on ourselves, and on chance. Only why is it that we pay taxes?
It is easy to accuse the special services of not knowing how to do their job when you are sitting in an armchair in front of a computer. Having blown up a sports hall and begun to break out into the town the bandits left the military no choice. In these circumstances it was necessary to storm the building.
Maxim, Russian Federation
Those who failed to protect people must resign! Otherwise it will continue forever. They needed to arrest Basayev and exchange him for children. Why are the Special Forces so helpless? Ten years gone and nothing has changed.
Taking into account that the storming was unplanned the operation can be considered satisfactory.
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.
This was inevitable. On the other hand, the authorities have shown a lack of organisation and coordination. How is that possible - terrorists escaping a building that has been surrounded for three days? The president must do something with those who are responsible.
Russian special forces are only capable of battling dissidents and providing protection to businessmen. When it is a matter of freeing hostages it turns out they are incapable of anything. But they receive medals and awards anyway.
Obviously the initiative is in the hands of the terrorists not our authorities. The authorities are disorganised, that's why the storming was so chaotic. The result is the worst possible outcome. My condolences to the parents of the dead children.
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.
I think there was no other way out. If the security forces had made compromises, this would have happened again. I am sorry for the dead.