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Russia Mourns Victims of School Massacre - 2004-09-06

Russia is observing two days of mourning for the 350 victims of last week's terrorist school massacre. More funerals are being held in the town of Beslan as medical aid shipments arrive from the United States and other countries.

A stunned nation tried to come to grips with the magnitude of the school tragedy with Monday and Tuesday declared official days of mourning.

Entertainment programs have been canceled and flags have been lowered to half-staff as the people of Beslan bury their dead in scores of funerals.

Inside the shattered school building in Beslan people lit candles and left flowers and bottles of water to symbolize how the hundreds of hostages had even been denied drinking water while held captive by at least 30 armed terrorists.

Hundreds are still in hospitals, some flown as far as Moscow due to the severity of their injuries. Planes have arrived from Italy and the United States bringing medical supplies, medicine, and other equipment to help doctors cope with the injured.

Meanwhile, an investigation continues into the identity of the heavily armed men and at least two women who seized the school on the first day of classes last Wednesday.

Security officials say the militants appear to have been a mix of regional nationalities, from war-torn Chechnya and also the region of North Ossetia where the siege took place. Ten of the hostage-takers, all of whom were killed, appear to be from Arab countries or other foreign nations, although this has not been confirmed independently.

Russian state television has shown one man who was arrested for allegedly taking part in the raid. He was bundled into a room by two masked commandos with his hands tied behind his back, pleading in heavily-accented Russian that he had not shot anyone.

Mixed in with the grief, many Russians are angry at the way the authorities handled the crisis.

President Vladimir Putin admitted Russian authorities were unprepared for a terror act of this magnitude and promised new measures to tighten security soon.