Beslan siege organiser speaks

Thursday, February 3, 2005 The Beslan siege organiser, Chechen rebel Shamil Basayev, has spoken for the first time since declaring he was responsible for the hostage situation. The Beslan school siege last September resulted in 330 deaths, half of which were children. Basayev was also responsible for the Moscow Theatre siege, in which 130 people died after a military assault to free the hostages and overwhelm the terrorists.

A package containing three video CDs with an hour's statement by Basayev was sent to Channel 4 News, four months after they asked an intermediary questions about them man behind the attacks.

In the statement, the rebel leader aimed to justify the siege, claiming the Russian government's aggressive response was unexpected and led to the large number of deaths. He claims that he would and likely will do it again, though he said he appreciated that it would appear cynical. He restated that he is fighting for an end of Russian military offensives in Chechnya.