Hundreds of balloons were released in the air in Moscow to commemorate each victim of a terrorist siege of a school in the southern city of Beslan sixteen years ago – one of the worst tragedies in Russia’s modern history.
On September 1, 2004, a gang of more than 30 terrorists attacked School No.1 in Beslan in Russia’s Republic of North Ossetia. They took more than 1,200 people hostage – mostly children. For many of the kids it was their first day at school. The hostages were locked up in a gym.
The siege, which the whole of Russia – and the world – followed in shock and horror, lasted for three days, resulting in 334 deaths, with 186 children among the dead.
A vigil took place in one of the churches in central Moscow on Thursday and was followed by the laying of wreaths and flowers at the monument to the victims of the tragedy. Stuffed toys and bottles of water were also placed at the foot of the memorial, underlining the young age of those, who perished in the attack, and the thirst they suffered from during the siege. The terrorists denied their hostages food and water, while also forbidding them to use the toilet for more than 50 hours.
After a moment of silence, 334 white balloons were released in the air, one for each victim of the attack. It happened at 13:05, the same time that, on September 3, 2004, a blast rocked the school, prompting special forces to storm the building.
Commemorative events were also staged at cemeteries in the capital and Moscow Region, where rescuers and servicemen who lost their lives in Beslan are buried. Some of them died while shielding kids from bullets with their own bodies.
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