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5 Russian school massacre suspects killed
Updated: 2005-03-04 17:36

Russian authorities have killed five people and arrested four others suspected of aiding the hostage-taking attack on a school in southern Russia last fall that killed 330 people, prosecutors said Friday.

Deputy Prosecutor General Nikolai Shepel said in a statement that the arrested men were suspected of helping stage the attack in Beslan, where assailants held more than 1,000 hostages for nearly three days before the siege ended Sept. 3 in gunfire and explosions.

Shepel said that five other suspects were killed while resisting arrest. The statement did not say when or where the raid took place.

The suspects were accused of being involved in the raid "at the stage of its preparation," Shepel said.

Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev has claimed responsibility for the school seizure and other latest terror attacks in Russia, including twin plane bombings in August and an explosion near a Moscow subway station in which about 110 people died.

Anger has grown over the slow pace of the investigation, particularly among residents of Beslan. Many suspect authorities are hiding information about the attackers and how they were so easily able to slip into town with a huge quantity of weapons.

Officials say 32 people took part in the attack and that 31 of them were killed and one detained. Almost half of the 330 people killed in the attack were children.

Shepel said that the suspects arrested in the latest raid were also accused of involvement in an attack on police facilities in Russia's southern region of Ingushetia near Chechnya in June, in which about 90 people were killed.

He said a suspected al-Qaida liaison in Chechnya, Abu Dzeit, a Saudi Arabia national, who died in a Russian security sweep last month, was a key organizer of the school seizure and other terror attacks.

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