RealNews

New breed of extremist turns fight for independence into unrelenting holy war

The war has lasted for most of 10 years, and with each year that passes, Islamist separatists have had to sink to ever greater depths of brutality to get their cause noticed. Chechnya – a war the Kremlin reignited to boost the political career of an unknown former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin – today returns to haunt the Russian president. Yesterday’s seizure of a school in the southern town of Beslan, in the volatile republic of North Ossetia, caps a bloody week for Mr Putin, whose usual take on the conflict is that it is “getting better”. Two planes and a metro station have been attacked, and now he must achieve what seems impossible: the safe extraction of up to 400 schoolchildren from a mined gymnasium. They are being held by 17 Islamist extremists, well-versed in Russian siege tactics, ready to die, and demanding the unacceptable – the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya. Full Story

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