Folks, here are more statistics on the three-day hostage siege at a school in Beslan, southern Russia, which ended in chaos and bloodshed Friday, after witnesses said Chechen militants set off bombs and Russian commandos stormed the building. Hostages fled in terror, many of them children who were half-naked and covered in blood.
– Officials estimate the death toll at more than 200.
– 531 people remaine hospitalized, including 283 children – 92 of the youngsters in “very grave” condition.
– The seige ended sixty-two hours after the hostage drama began during a celebration marking the first day of the school year, guaranteeing psychological damage to the poor children for the rest of their lives.
– Valery Andreyev, Russia’s Federal Security Service chief in the region, said 10 Arabs were among 27 militants who were killed.
– The ITAR-Tass news agency, citing unidentified security sources, reported the hostage-taking was the work of Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who had al-Qaida backing. ITAR-Tass said Basayev received funding for the attack from allege al-Qaida operative, Abu Omar as-Saif.
– The militants displayed terrifying brutality from the start. One gunman, whose pockets were stuffed with grenades, held up the corpse of a man just shot in front of hundreds of hostages and warned: “If a child utters even a sound, we’ll kill another one.”
– The Arab presence among the attackers supports Putin’s contention that al-Qaida terrorists were deeply involved in the Chechen conflict, where Muslim fighters have been battling Russian forces in a brutal war of independence for more than a decade.
– The brutal inhumanity of the Muslim terrorists is more proof of the invalid claim that Islam is a religion of peace.