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7 Sep, 2008 03:26

Beslan massacre remembered

Russia marked the fourth anniversary of the Beslan school siege as schools re-opened at the beginning of September. The tragedy left 300 people dead – including 186 children. On September 3, 2004, Russian forces attempte

Memorial services were held across the country.

Moscow residents gathered in a city park to commemorate victims. Well-wishers carried pictures of those who died and placards with words of condolence.

They called for a fair inquiry into the handling of the crisis, calling for those responsible to be punished.

An official investigation has been completed and the only surviving terrorist was sentenced to life in prison.

On the same day people also paid their respects to victims of terror attacks that have taken place in Moscow over the past ten years. People lit candles in memory of those who died in apartment-block explosions and underground blasts.
They also commemorated the Nord Ost theatre siege in 2002.

Beslan four years on – the grief remains

Four years after the tragedy, Beslan is still shrouded in grief.

On Wednesday, hundreds of mourners assembled at the ruins of School Number One, left untouched since the tragedy, to lay flowers and light candles in memory of those who died in September 2004.

The sad day was marked by one minute's silence and the release of 334 white balloons in the air – one for each victim.

Then the ceremony moved to Beslan’s Memorial Cemetery, where the list of victims was read out. For many residents of Beslan the days of mourning bring back their bad dreams and memories.

“My girl died because she suffered from diabetes. It happened before the explosion. A boy also died because of a heart attack, before the explosion. It was very scary and sad. Like, when you see a mother with her kids and a child asking for something and you are unable to give it, you cannot help with anything – it's incredibly hard,” said Zalina Tokova, who lost a child in the terrorist attack,.

Kasbulat Ramonov was a caring husband and a loving father to his two children. His daughter Mariana was killed on the first day during the initial attack. His eight-year-old son Irbek was gravely injured and spent several months in hospital in Moscow. His family never managed to get back together.

Kasbulat says his life stopped that September. He is now the key keeper of the cemetery. Many people say every day they see him walking along the graves and quietly talking to the dead children. He knows the story of each of the victims lying there.

The rest are in other cemeteries close to their families. Madina, Svetlana and Aza were best friends at school. During the hostage attack Madina was sitting alone in the other corner of the gym. On September 3 she had her birthday. The other two girls crawled to congratulate her. The first explosion came right at that moment. They were all killed instantly.

But a miracle happened in the family of another victim, Angelika. Two years after her death her mother had a daughter. The girl was born on the same day as their last child – a miracle that every family in Beslan is praying for.