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Last Updated: Monday, 6 September, 2004, 22:33 GMT 23:33 UK
Mass funerals while Russia mourns
Relatives at the coffin of one of the school siege victims in Beslan
More than 100 families buried their loved ones on Monday
Grieving residents of Beslan trudged through wind and rain for a second day of funerals for victims of the Russian school siege that killed at least 335.

The sound of wailing echoed through the North Ossetian town as procession upon procession headed towards the cemetery to bury more than 100 victims.

The burnt-out gym of school Number One, where the hostages were held and many died, has been turned into a shrine.

Correspondents say anger is rising, directed mainly at nearby Ingushetia.

Two days of national mourning are being observed in Russia and flags are at half-mast.

These were all our children, they were all our brothers and sisters
Beslan resident

About half of the hostages killed were children, and almost 200 are still unaccounted for.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Beslan said the collective grieving in the town overwhelmed the senses.

Shrines

In almost every street, someone was mourning the loss of child, family or friends.

Many were laying to rest more than one family member. Vitaly buried his entire family on Monday, his wife, son and daughter.

"You won't find a soul here who is not attending a funeral today," a resident told AFP.

"These were all our children, they were all our brothers and sisters," he added.

Meanwhile, hundreds have visited the bombed-out shell of the school, and the gymnasium where so many people died.

One man called Boris was looking for his 14-year-old nephew Aslan. All he could find was a shoe.

A shrine of flowers, toys and candles lies amid the rubble.

Water and food have also been left - left for hostages who were denied such basic necessities during the three-day siege.

One mother left a poem in memory of the children who were murdered. It was entitled "Little Angels".

Revenge

Funerals for victims began on Sunday, with the burial of 24 people. Mechanical diggers are working to open up new graves.

It is thought that more than 1,100 people had been held hostage in the school, although there is no official figure yet.

Unidentified mourners in Beslan
People across Russia are in mourning for those killed in Beslan
Authorities say at least 335 people died, but unofficial figures suggest the real number could be closer to 400.

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford, also in Beslan, says that as people bury their dead, the thoughts of many are already turning to revenge.

Although it remains unclear who the hostage-takers were, many Ossetians are convinced extremists from neighbouring Ingushetia were involved.

There is a long history of hatred among the two republics and many fear more bloodshed to come, says our correspondent.

State-controlled Channel One television said on Sunday that Ingush, as well as Kazakhs, Chechens, Arabs and Slavs, were involved but did not indicate the source of its information.

During the siege, the hostage-takers were reported to have demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and the release of Chechen rebels held in Ingushetia.

Weapons 'hidden'

The BBC's Bridget Kendall in Moscow says some journalists and commentators are asking why information on events in Beslan has been so slow to come to light and is often inaccurate.

She says President Vladimir Putin appears to have divided Russia's political elite with his nationwide address on Saturday, in which he blamed foreign enemies without once mentioning Chechnya.

Rows of fresh graves for the victims of the school siege in Beslan
Mechanical diggers have been used to hastily prepare grave sites
The Russian Red Cross has appealed for international assistance to help overstretched local hospitals trying to treat the injured - who now number more than 560, according to the authorities.

Children at the school were celebrating the start of the new school year with parents and staff on Wednesday morning when the heavily-armed gang took them hostage.

The crisis ended in massive bloodshed on Friday after bombs rigged by the hostage-takers went off inside the building, and Russian troops moved in.

Russian authorities are investigating claims that adults were told to hand the hostage-takers weapons which had been concealed under the sports hall's floorboards.

Meanwhile, state television broadcast footage it says was of one of the hostage-takers in captivity.

The man was shown in handcuffs, insisting that he had not shot any of the children in the school.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"Down every street we found another solemn procession"



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