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Gidseltagerne i Beslan var stofmisbrugere

Source:AP
Date:19/10-2004

Forensic tests show that some of the terrorists who seized more than 1000 hostages in a school in the southern Russian town of Beslan last month were drug addicts, says senior prosecutor.

Nikolai Shepel, Russia's deputy prosecutor general, said forensic experts found traces of drugs in the bodies of some of the militants that exceeded normally lethal levels.

This indicated they were long-term drug addicts, he said in a statement carried by the Interfax and Itar-Tass news agencies.

Tests also revealed that "some of the terrorists had run out of drugs and were in a state of withdrawal, which usually comes with aggressiveness and inadequate behaviour," Shepel said.

"This allows us to assess the situation before the tragic outcome."

After seizing the school in Beslan on September 1, the militants placed bombs around its gym and held hostages there in sweltering heat for three days without food or water.

The standoff ended on September 3, when an explosion inside the school sent children fleeing and their captors began shooting them in the back, prompting the forces gathered outside to return fire. Nearly 340 hostages died.

Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev took credit for the attack, saying it was part of the rebel struggle for independence from Moscow.