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Friday, September 03, 2004

Quit yer Stalin!

So, it seems like the Russian reputation for subtly and tact is well-earned:

The hostage standoff at a school near Chechnya turned tragic Friday with hundreds of children and adults killed or injured in an afternoon of fighting that continued sporadically into the night.

The exact sequence of events Friday remained confused. It apparently started when authorities were fired upon as they tried to retrieve the bodies of people killed Wednesday when the siege began and reached a climax when Russian special forces stormed the building and fought with rebel gunmen room by room.

Now, this might seem like the Russians were just making the best of a bad situation but, well, I have my doubts:

The school became a battlefield, with authorities deploying artillery, assault helicopters and tanks and the gunmen firing automatic weapons and grenades. In the chaos, escaping hostages were shot in the back. Booby trap bombs exploded inside the school. And the roof on a gym collapsed in a fiery heap.

Yeah, you read that right. Artillery. ARTILLERY for crying out loud! How did this seem like a good idea to anyone? Who resolves a hostage situation with artillery?!

Ok, ok, I KNOW who but it's still fricking insane.

I know this sort of approach worked at Stalingrad, but maybe the Russians should lay off a bit. I mean, last time they used a knockout gas that killed dozens of the hostages. This time, it's artillery. What's next? The use of fuel-air explosives?

If you're in Russia and you're taken hostage, do yourself a favor and fight the terrorists. It doesn't seem they're much more likely to kill you than the authorities.


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