(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the residents of the town of Beslan in Russia which is commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Beslan school hostage crisis this week.
Listen to this report by Lydia O’Kane.
This week 10 years ago the lives of hundreds of Russian students, their parents and teachers changed forever when Chechen terrorists entered former school number 1 in the town of Beslan in Russia’s North Ossetia region taking over 1,000 people hostage.
The terrorists were demanding recognition of the independence of Chechnya at the UN and Russian withdrawal from the area.
On the third day of the hostage crisis Russian security forces entered the school building using heavy weapons.
The siege was resolved but the lives of over 300 people including 186 children were claimed.
Ten years on from the horrific events of the 1st to the 3rd of September of 2004 commemorations are taking place across Russia to remember the victims of the massacre.
One of those who is marking the siege is Amina who was a pupil at the school and was taken hostage by the terrorists. She returned this week to the building where it happened and spoke to Russia Today about her memories of the terrible events.
“I saw people around me running. I think I could have easily ended up trampled to death. And then all of a sudden, somebody’s hand grabbed me and their hand was holding many other little hands. This was our teacher.”
As Russia and Beslan itself mark this anniversary Pope Francis has written a letter to the residents of the North Ossetian town.
The letter, the contents of which are not known, is being delivered by Abbot Paolo De Carli who gave shelter to over 60 Beslan residents for two months at his monastery in the Trentino province in Italy following the hostage crisis.
(From archive of Vatican Radio)