“More Beslan-Type Operations”
Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who claimed responsibility for last year’s brutal terrorist attack on a Russian school, was quoted as saying Thursday that the separatist rebels are planning more such operations.
In an interview with Channel 4 News to be broadcast Thursday night, part of which was quoted in Thursday’s Times of London newspaper, Basayev expressed regret for the hundreds of deaths in the June hostage-taking attack on the school in the Russian town of Beslan.
But he blamed some of the deaths on flame-throwers used by Russian special forces who attacked the school to end the siege. He said that action, not explosives set by the hostage-takers, had caused the roof of the school gym to collapse.
“We are planning more Beslan-type operations in the future because we are forced to do so,” the Times quoted Basayev as saying.
This story is troubling on the terrorism as well as the political front. After the school tragedy, Vladimir Putin exploited fears and increased authoritarianism to the point where Freedom House downgraded Russia’s rating to “not free.” He may now feel further justified in usurping power. And it probably doesn’t help matters that Ukraine has been leaning westward as expected, thereby exacerbating Russian insecurities.