Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Orthodox Church built in Beslan, North Ossetia, on the site where the children of the school No. 1 were massacred, now has a Cross on its highest dome. The ceremony of blessing and laying of the cross - presided over by Archbishop Zosima of Vladivkavkaz, - was held on October 3, in conjunction with a religious commemoration for the victims of the attack. More than 180 children were killed in the 2004 assault.
"This is an event of great historical significance," the archbishop said, speaking to the people of Beslan gathered on the site of what was once the school gymnasium where the terrorists held over a thousand people hostage for three days. "In the place where ten years ago the blood of innocent children was shed, thanks to the good will of many people, a church has been built - said the archbishop - May the cross that is being placed today protect the people of Beslan and Ossetia from all evil. God bless you".
Those present at the ceremony included many former hostages, teachers and students of the school.
"I have been waiting for this day - said Nadezhda Zaloeva-Gurieva, who lost a daughter and a son in the attack - Now, every morning, I'll see this cross from my balcony on the fifth floor".
From 1 to 3 September 2004, about 1,200 hostages were herded into the school gym, packed with explosives, and denied water, food or to go to the bathroom. The terrorist commando, consisting of Chechens and Ingush, were calling for the independence of Chechnya. On the third day, the Russian special forces unexpectedly raided the gym and the outcome was a bloodbath. Responsibility for the massacre has never been clarified. According to official estimates, 331 people died, including 186 children. Of an estimated 720 wounded, 135 are now invalid.