Rudy, read this story. It’s typical. If you don’t already know, you would never get the idea that this has anything to do with jihad, or with similar jihad conflicts elsewhere in the world, from Israel to Indonesia. Now, for some background on the Chechen jihad, read this.
Just in from AP:
BESLAN, Russia – Camouflaged security agents carried babies to safety after militants holding hundreds of hostages at a school released at least 31 women and children Thursday, and officials expressed hope that negotiations would bring more progress in the standoff in southern Russia.
But a crowd of hostages’ relatives keeping vigil outside the school was shaken when a pair of explosions went off just ahead of the release. Officials said militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at two cars that got too close to the school.
The developments came after a night of telephone negotiations between Russian authorities and the militants, who stormed the school Wednesday, rounding up around 350 children and adults into a gym and threatening to blow up the building if police launch an assault.
Local official Lev Dzugayev called the release “the first success” and expressed hope for further progress in negotiations. He has said between 15 and 24 militants were thought to be in the school, which has been surrounded and cordoned off by security forces.
In his first public comment on the standoff, President Vladimir Putin pledged to do everything possible to save the hostages’ lives. “We understand these acts are not only against private citizens of Russia but against Russia as a whole,” he said. “What is happening in North Ossetia is horrible.”
The rescue operation’s headquarters reported that 26 women and children were released in one group, and that another group included three women and two children.
Camouflage-clad security agents carried babies and young children — some wrapped in blankets, some naked — from the scene and into cars. An Associated Press Television News reporter saw soldiers escorting two women and at least two children away from the school.
Officials at the crisis headquarters said the releases came after mediation by Ruslan Aushev, an Afghan war veteran and former president of the neighboring Ingushetia region who is a respected figure in Russia’s troubled North Caucasus region.
As Dzugayev announced some of the releases, a crowd of relatives swarmed around him, trying to find out if their loved ones were among those freed.
The hostage-taking in Beslan, a town of about 30,000 in the southern region of North Ossetia, appeared to be the latest in a string of attacks by insurgents from the nearby war-town republic of Chechnya. Suspicion has fallen on Chechen rebels, although no claim of responsibility has been made.