1 September 2013, 11:05

A three-day remembrance ceremony is underway in the North Ossetian town of Beslan in southern Russia to commemorate the victims of a bloody hostage raid on a local school nine years ago.

At 9:05 am Moscow Time on Sunday, the bell rang in the courtyard of Beslan's school No. 1 to signal the start of wreath-laying in the gym where more than 1,200 schoolchildren and teachers had been held hostage by terrorists during the first three days of September 2004.

Funeral music will be played in the gym for three days. People from Beslan and other cities will come to light candles and leave bottles of water, toys and flowers.

North Ossetia’s head, Taimuraz Mamsurov, whose daughter and son were among the hostages, will be the first to lay flowers.

Back in September 2004 at 09:30 am Moscow Time on September 1, 2004, the morning of the first day of the autumn term, a group of around thirty armed men and women stormed Beslan's Middle School Number One, whose pupils were aged from seven to eighteen years old.

Most of the attackers wore black ski masks and a few were seen carrying explosive belts.

After an exchange of gunfire with police, in which five officers and one perpetrator were killed, the attackers seized the school building taking more than 1,300 hostages.

On the afternoon of September 3, 2004, a removal team began to approach the school but within a few seconds the hostage-takers opened fire and two large explosions were heard.

The raid left 334 hostages dead, 186 of them children, and disabled 126 others, including 70 children. More than 100 former hostages are still receiving rehabilitation.

Voice of Russia

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