"Late Wednesday night, one of the troops called his commanding officer on the radio with a grim request.
"Can we shoot the dogs? They are chewing on the bodies," said the man, who gave only his first name, Oleg. The officer turned down the request, saying that any shooting could alarm the hostage-takers, and they did not want to risk setting off a firefight or put the hostages' lives in danger. The attackers have threatened to kill 50 children for every one of their own killed."
"Six hundred and forty-six people, including 227 children, were hospitalized following the terrorist act in Beslan," sources in the Russian Ministry for Civil Defense and Emergencies and the North Ossetian Health Ministry told Itar-Tass...
"The majority of patients have bullet wounds in the back," the sources said.
"Human rights abuses [by the Russian authorities] are the hallmark of the [Chechen] conflict. There are everyday disappearances, torture is ingrained and extensive, as are summary executions. There are new victims every day. People have lost what little hope they had of Russia as their protector. As a result, Denber says, the militants have also grown more ruthless."
"Putin's goal, said Alexander Golts, military observer for the magazine Yezhenedelny Zhurnal, was ''to put Russia in the ranks of those who fight against terrorism . . . to say, 'Look, we are fighting the same enemy but on another front, in Chechnya.' "
''It's the best way to avoid any kind of criticism," Golts said.
Though the Chechen insurgents have received help from foreign fighters and turned more devoutly Islamic in recent years, analysts say the fragmented movement remains more focused on conflict with Russia than on ''jihad" or ''holy war" against America, Israel, or the Western world in general.
''It's still nationalist," said Golts. ''But in a situation where we are continuing this 10-year war with all its brutality, it's more or less natural that this resistance becomes open for all these wild ideas that come from the Middle East, with money, instructors, and adventurers."
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