Russian suicide bomb victims to be flown to Israel
September 8, 2004 JERUSALEM POST
Child survivors of last week's terror attack on a Russian school are to be airlifted to Israel for treatment at facilities specializing in such care. The children and their mothers will be flown here by the Michael Cherney Fund, which was created after the Dolphinarium suicide bomb attack, which killed 20 teenagers and wounded over 100 in 2001. The Fund also helped the victims of a May 2002 bombing in south Russia, where 10 children were killed and many more wounded. On Tuesday night, Russians got a horrific glimpse of conditions inside the Beslan school gymnasium when a television station broadcast chilling images of the heavily armed, hooded assailants amid the crowd of women, children and men. NTV television said the pictures were recorded by the assailants presumably so they could give an accounting to their leaders. Footage showed terrorists preparing bombs in front of over 1,000 hostages in the cramped gymnasium. Released only days after family members buried their children and loved ones, the graphic images forced the world to peer closely into the conditions that preceded the tragic deaths of over 300 hostages. Hooded black- and camouflage-clad terrorists wired bombs through the basketball hoops while hostages sat, some calm, some frozen in fear, in the gymnasium littered with explosive materials. One attacker in camouflage and a black hood stood amid the hostages with a boot on what NTV said was a book rigged with a detonator. A thick streak of blood stained the wood floor, as if a bleeding body had been pulled across. Various officials had previously leaked some details of the investigation, but Wednesday's broadcast was the first attempt by the government to give a formal account of the tragedy that has gripped the nation for the past week. The prosecutor said his information was based on interviews with witnesses and the one alleged attacker detained by authorities. One detainee, Nur-Pashi Kulayev, said the group's leader, who went by the name Colonel, shot one of the militants and said he would do the same to any other militants or hostages who did not show "unconditional obedience." Later that day, he detonated the explosives worn by two female attackers, killing them, in order to enforce the lesson, Ustinov said. Terrorists seized the Beslan school on September 1, a day after a suicide bombing in Moscow killed 10 people and just over a week after two Russian passenger planes crashed following explosions and killed all 90 people aboard - two attacks authorities suspect were linked to the war in Chechnya. The official death toll of the three-day siege, which ended in deadly explosions and gunfire, stood at 335, plus 30 attackers; the regional Health Ministry said 326 of the dead had been hostages, and the Emergency Situations Ministry said 156 of the dead were children.