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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Beslan Mothers Release a Film

Mothers whose children perished in the Beslan school tragedy three years ago released a documentary film Monday that they say proves federal troops fired into the school, contributing to the death toll of 334 hostages.

Federal authorities have insisted that no one fired into the school, where more than 1,000 children and parents were taken hostage by Chechen attackers on Sept. 1, 2004. The crisis ended Sept. 3 with a chaotic rescue attempt.

The film -- which has been circulating on the Internet but was only officially released Monday -- contains testimony from the trials of Beslan police officers and the lone surviving attacker, Nur-Pashi Kulayev, that the mothers say indicates federal troops fired into the school. The film footage shows holes in the walls of the school, while a voice can be heard saying the holes could not have been caused by an explosive. Kommersant identified the speaker as a bomb expert.

"We want the president to see this footage, and we demand a fair investigation," said Ella Kesayeva, head of the Voice of Beslan, a group of mothers.

But she said Dmitry Kozak, the presidential envoy for the Southern Federal District, had cautioned the mothers a month ago that an ongoing parliamentary investigation might find that no government officials were responsible for the deaths in the attack.

Government officials have denied any wrongdoing, and leaks from the parliamentary investigative commission have suggested that most of the deaths were caused by explosives planted in the school by the attackers.

"Their investigation just echoes the prosecutor's office's version," Kesayeva said. Prosecutors are investigating the conduct of the authorities and troops, and results are expected this fall.

Kulayev and several Beslan police officers have been convicted in connection with the attack.

State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov promised Beslan mothers Sunday that a final official report from the parliamentary investigation was on its the way.

A member of the parliamentary investigative commission, Yury Ivanov, told Ekho Moskvy radio Monday that the commission had planned to question President Vladimir Putin in connection with the attack but his name had somehow disappeared from its list of people to interview.

Ivanov earlier told Novaya Gazeta that Putin could have saved the children if he had agreed to negotiate with the late Chechen rebel leader, Aslan Maskhadov, about the hostage standoff.