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Beslan parents fear troops killed hostages

UPI | April 7 2005

ARCHIVE: Beslan School Massacre: Inside Involvement

Beslan residents have told federal prosecutors that forces storming a school to free hostages there last September used flamethrowers and anti-tank grenades.

Residents of the Russian town in North Ossetia handed over to prosecutors disposable barrels from a Shmel flamethrower and a Mukha grenade launcher they claimed to have found in buildings near the school, The Moscow Times reported Wednesday.

The residents voiced their concerns that the weapons could have caused some of the more than 330 deaths of hostages -- half of them children -- during the Sept. 1-3 school seizure.

"Maybe these weapons were used to kill my son," one parent said Tuesday.

Residents reportedly found the barrels and shells in November but handed them over only now, in the presence of a North Ossetian lawmaker, because they distrusted local prosecutors.

None of the forces that stormed the school have said they used rocket launchers or flamethrowers. The forces have admitted using tanks to shell the school but have said they did so only after it became clear that all the hostages had either escaped or been killed.

Without commenting on the residents' claim, prosecutors said they were investigating whether the weapons should have been used.