Russian hostage drama'a deep human tragedy'
3 September 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Speaking as the European Union President, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said on Friday that the violent end to the Russian hostage drama was a "deep human tragedy".
3 September 2004
AMSTERDAM — Speaking as the European Union President, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said on Friday that the violent end to the Russian hostage drama was a "deep human tragedy".
Bot said he regretted that the hostage crisis could not be solved peacefully, but understood the difficult dilemma the Russian government was confronted with.
he had heard "with great sorrow" that that hostage takers had killed a number of people, he said in a press release.
The Dutch minister asserted that the hostage drama demonstrated that all countries in the world had to do everything possible to jointly combat terrorism. Countries must also condemn all forms of terror, he said.
The Netherlands currently holds the six-month rotating EU Presidency.
Bot said that EU Foreign Affairs Ministers — meeting in the Dutch province of Limburg on Friday — were following with great concern the developments surrounding the hostage drama.
But Bot refused to be drawn on the actions of Russian troops, who eventually stormed the school in the town of Beslan in North Ossetia. Heavy gunfire and loud explosions were heard throughout the morning in the southern Russian town.
"It is difficult from a distance to judge whether the correct decision was taken. We assume that the Russian authorities have considered this very carefully. They had searched for a solution via negotiations, but that did not succeed," he said.
Bot had previously issued a written statement expressing his regret over the violent end to the hostage drama, in which Chechen rebels took up to 1,500 people hostage, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
The Christian Democrat CDA minister also expressed his sincere condolences to the families, the Russian government and the Russian people.
At least 100 bodies have reportedly been found in the school and some 400 people have been injured. There is confusion as to why the Russian forces raided the complex, with reports emerging that they wanted to continue negotiations.
Although the rescue operation was unplanned, hundreds of children were freed, though some were badly injured. Television images showed fleeing children, many naked and bleeding, being carried away by soldiers and civilians.
Gunfire continued into the late afternoon as Russian special forces mopped up pockets of rebel resistance. At least 10 rebels were killed, while one local official said "most" of the hostages had survived.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news