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Russian MP: Troops May Have Sparked Final Battle in School Massacre

A Russian lawmaker probing the 2004 Beslan school massacre says he cannot rule out the possibility that Russian soldiers, rather than militants, triggered the final battle that left more than 300 people dead.

Authorities have maintained that Chechen militants holding more than 1,000 hostages set off a series of explosions that forced Russian troops to storm a school building in the city of Beslan.

But a published report by lawmaker Yuri Savelyev, described as an expert in explosions and fire, says military grenade fire may have sparked the string of explosions that preceded a military charge.

The Russian prosecutor-general's office declined comment on the Savelyev report, published Tuesday by the Russian news media.

The 700-page report also claims that Russian commanders waited more than two hours to give orders to put out a gymnasium fire, in which many hostages were burned alive.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.