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Saturday, September 04, 2004

The New York Times > International > Europe > The President: Putin Says Russia Faces Full 'War' to Divide Nation

The New York Times > International > Europe > The President: Putin Says Russia Faces Full 'War' to Divide Nation: "September 5, 2004
Putin Says Russia Faces Full 'War' to Divide Nation

MOSCOW, Sept. 4 - In a rare address to his nation, coming at a time of grave crisis, President Vladimir V. Putin said Saturday that the school siege in the southern city of Beslan was an attack on all of Russia and called for the mobilization of society to resist what he called 'a total and full-scale war' to splinter the country.
Mr. Putin spoke as the death toll from the violent end of the hostage crisis at Middle School No. 1 in Beslan rose to 330; half of the dead were children. Officials warned that the number of dead would rise further in the city, not far from Chechnya, as workers searched the school's charred wreckage and as more victims succumbed to their wounds in hospitals.
'This is challenge to all of Russia, to all our people,' Mr. Putin said. 'This is an attack against all of us.' [Text, Page 12.]
Mr. Putin sought to answer the seething anger that many here have expressed after a series of terrorist acts that in 10 wrenching days have killed more than 500 people. The worst was in Beslan, where heavily armed insurgents, some wearing explosives, seized the school on Wednesday, corralled 1,200 schoolchildren, parents and teachers into its gymnasium and threatened to kill them. On Friday, large explosions caused a panic and Russian troops charged the building as children began to escape, but hundreds died in the melee.
Authorities said they believed that the terrorists were Islamic militants, mostly Chechens.
Mr. Putin called t"


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