Thousands of anguished residents of the small town of Beslan yesterday marked the anniversary of one of Russia's deadliest terrorist attacks with white doves rising into the air, the tolling of bells and tears.
Mourners again bid a wrenching farewell to 331 Adults and Children who perished in a storm of gunfire and explosions on September 3rd 2004, after enduring nearly three days as hostages at Beslan's School no. 1.
On the edge of town, several thousand people poured into the cemetery of polished red granite graves. At 3 p.m., the sea of grieving people listened for nearly 30 minutes as the list of the dead was read aloud to the sound of a ticking clock.
Then, a wave of sobbing swelled from the croud as a white sheet was pulled off a 7 1/2 metre statute depicting four women holding up a tree of angels.
White doves released into the air circled over the croud several times.
"After this, what else can I believe in? What else can I see? What can I expect? I don't know what else. I've lost faith," said Sveta Beroyeva, whose 10-year-old twin grandsons, Soslan and Aslan, were killed. The ceremonies "will help some. For many, nothing will ever help."
*(AP) September 4 2005
Photo: HTB CTPAHA
Soldier standing in green camouflage, wearing what looks to be black sneakers, holding an assault rifle, pointed down, ammo clip pointed left. Waist down visible.
Russians sitting bottom right;
woman: right hand over left
small girl: hands in 'prayer'
Man: holding out five digits towards captor
small boy: looking towards camera, hands behind neck, feet crossed trying to form the star of david.
Folded mat behind soldier in an upside-down U shape, red inside towards right, blue on outside facing soldier.