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Russia opens negotiations with hostage-takers

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Last updated on: September 02, 2004 10:28 IST

Russian officials have reportedly opened negotiations with the persons who have taken control of a school in Beslan, in the southern part of the vast country.

The exact number of persons taken hostage is yet to be determined but it is believed to be over 300, most of them children. Anxious parents and relatives have gathered outside the school.

The hostage-takers on Wednesday warned of blowing up the school if the police tried to storm it and demanded talks with regional officials. But their demands are still not known and neither is their identity. On Wednesday, they refused offers of food and water.

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Condemning the incident, the United Nations Security Council has demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the children, teachers and parents being held inside the school.

"The Security Council condemns in the strongest terms the heinous act of taking hostages at a secondary school in the town of Beslan," Security Council's president for the month, Juan Antonio Yanez-Barnuevo of Spain, said after a meeting of the 15-member body on Wednesday evening.

"The Security council urges all states to cooperate actively with the Russian authorities in their efforts to find and bring to justice the perpetrators, organisers and sponsors of these terrorist acts," he said.