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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Beslan Mourns Attack 5 Years On

APWomen grieving Tuesday in the gymnasium of Beslan’s School No. 1 where terrorists took 1,000 hostages in 2004.

BESLAN, North Ossetia — Tuesday would have been Georgy Daurov’s very first day of school. His mother, Svetlana, scoffed at the idea that the passage of time could ease the sorrow of losing her 2-year-old son five years ago in Russia’s worst terrorist attack.

“Time heals all wounds — the person who thought that up never had anyone die, never mind a young son,” she said, tears streaming down her face. “We live with this every day of our lives.”

The ragged wails of mothers, fathers, grandparents and neighbors echoed again out the jagged roof and broken windows of Beslan’s School No. 1 on Tuesday. What is the first day of school for millions of children around Russia is a day of unspeakable grief here.

Thirty-two heavily armed militants — Chechens and others — seized the school Sept. 1, 2004, herding more than 1,000 men, women and children into the gymnasium and demanding that federal forces withdraw from Chechnya.

The hostages were packed in for nearly three days, thirsty, hungry and terrified until the afternoon of Sept. 3, when mayhem and gunfire broke out after explosions tore through the gym, and images of bloodied, mostly naked children fleeing the crossfire shocked the world. In all, 334 people died — more than half of them children.

The only attacker known to have survived, Nur-Pashi Kulayev, was sentenced to life in prison in 2006.

Scores of people — many sobbing openly — filed clockwise Tuesday through the burnt husk of the gymnasium, stopping to light candles or lay carnations on the floor. At 9:15 a.m., a school bell rang to mark the moment five years ago when the children and parents gathered in the schoolyard for opening day ceremonies, sending waves of sobbing through the crowd.

“I can’t do it, I can’t do it. I can’t go on anymore,” shrieked one woman, who staggered through the gym.

“Five years on and no one’s been punished,” yelled Matras Tsallagov, whose brother Timur, sister-in-law and nephew all died in the siege.

“It’s easier to visit the cemetery than to come here, where so many suffered for so long, without help,” said Fatima Lohova. Her brother Ruslan was shot by a terrorist sniper as he ran to save his 6-year-old niece, Dzerassa, on the first day of the ordeal. The girl died on the last day.

Svetlana Daurov, 40, said Georgy suffered through the thirst, the hunger, the heat and the fear along with her 12-year-old daughter, Alyona, and her mother-in-law, Inessa. Her husband, Vadim, was killed on the first day, shot by a sniper as he heard gunfire and rushed to the school. Georgy died when shrapnel shredded his spine above his neck. Inessa was shot through the head from the front — suspiciously, Daurov said, since her back was to the militants as she fled. Alyona is the only survivor.

Daurov pointed to a row of photographs of another mother and her four children, who all died in the siege, and sobbed. “Either everyone should die immediately altogether as one family, or everyone should remain alive together as one family,” she said. “It shouldn’t be that just some live and some die.”