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The End of the Beginning:

From Bloomberg:

About 20 armed men and women wearing explosive belts seized a school in southern Russia and are holding at least 300 hostages, including children, the country's fourth terrorist attack in the past eight days. As many as 10 people died.

Three people were killed when the school was taken, and between 300 and 400 hostages are being held, said Alexander Osiptsov, a spokesman at North Ossetia's presidential administration. Seven people died in hospital, Itar-Tass news service said, citing the local hospital that treated them....

NTV television said a blast was heard inside the school, without giving further details. Rossiya television showed troops surrounding the school and a girl running from the area. Shooting was audible on the broadcast.

``The terrorists aren't willing to negotiate so far,'' Osiptsov said. ``This is why it's absolutely unclear where exactly in the school the explosion took place'' and whether more people were killed.

The terrorists threatened to detonate their explosive belts if rescuers attempt to storm the building and said 50 children would be executed if any of the hostage-takers is killed, Itar-Tass said, citing Kazbek Dzantiyev, the head of Northern Ossetia's Interior Ministry....

The gunmen seized the school during a ceremony to begin the Russian school year. Festivities are usually held in schools across Russia on Sept. 1, with children coming to school in their finest clothes and carrying flowers for the teachers, parents coming to meet staff and songs being played over the public address system.
From the Village Voice, 2 July 2002:
An e-mail recently making the rounds of military and law enforcement circles describes a captured Al Qaeda training tape said to reveal the group's expertise in small arms and close commando situations in urban settings like New York, Washington, and Chicago.... For bigger raids, terrorists carry concealed weapons into a building, say a school or a financial institution, then in a swift show of violence take over the room, marching people up to the roof. TV reporters and photojournalists are allowed in. The kidnappers then begin to execute prisoners one by one in front of the cameras. The tape suggests planning several simultaneous raids to gain maximum exposure. The key point is that absolutely no one is left alive—men, women, children, all are killed.

In advice to law enforcement, one analyst of this training tape urges cops to begin shooting as soon as they recognize what's going on, and not to wait for any SWAT team or other support. Complying at any point is useless, since everyone will be ritually executed on the roof.
I remember these captured videos from Afghanistan from two years ago. I've been expecting an attack of this type ever since then, and wondering when it would come.

The terrorists' only salvation is that they are doing this in Russia, and not the United States. Even so, when they start executing the children for the news cameras, the world will change again.

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