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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
In pictures: Russia school siege
Television footage of the school in Beslan, North Ossetia
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The new term was starting when armed attackers stormed the school in Beslan, in the southern Russian region of North Ossetia.
Outside school building
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Local television captured images of security forces dragging some children to safety.
Pupils who escaped the hostage-takers
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Others told of how they managed to flee the hostage-takers amid the confusion.
A man speaks to soldiers enforcing an exclusion zone around the school
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Angry and distraught relatives rushed to the school to try to find out what had happened to their children.
A woman waits anxiously outside the school in Beslan
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Hours after their agony began, parents still faced an agonising wait for news.
Russian troops stationed outside the building
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It is not yet clear who is behind the attack, but there is speculation that Chechen separatists are to blame.
Troops in Beslan
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Soldiers bide their time as officials try to negotiate an end to the crisis.


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