Five Armenians hostage in Russian school siege

Public Television of Armenia, Yerevan
1 Sep 04

[Presenter] Terrorists continue to hold 354 hostages in a school in
[the North Ossetian town of] Beslan. There are 123 children among the
hostages. By 0600 Yerevan time [0100 gmt], gunshots had been heard
around the school. There are four Armenian children and one parent
among the hostages. The surname of one of the children is Kalashyan. It
is also known that one of the children is in the first form. The
"Aylur" news programme maintains permanent contact with the Armenian
diplomatic missions in Moscow and southern Russia. The head of the
general consulate of the Armenian embassy in southern Russia, Ararat
Gomtsyan, has offered the Russian Foreign Ministry his diplomatic
mission's services to take part in the negotiations with the terrorist.

[Ararat Gomtstyan, by telephone] For two days now, the terrorists have
been holding 354 hostages in a school in the North Ossetian town of
Beslan in the Russian Federation and putting forward their demands.

There are about 32,000 residents in Beslan. The Armenian community
here is small - about 350-400 people. There is also an Armenian
community in Vladikavkaz. We have direct telephone contacts with their
representatives in order to get all information that comes from there
and also, we are working to do everything possible to resolve this
problem peacefully and to achieve final results.

We, the general consulate in North Ossetia [as heard] and the Armenian
embassy in Moscow led by our ambassador Mr Smbatyan, are working with
the law-enforcement agencies and the republic's authorities, who are in
the town of Beslan, in order to learn and clarify the children's and
their parents' condition. There are four Armenian schoolchildren,
and one of them is in the first form. This is the preliminary
situation. We can say that the condition of the schoolchildren,
including the Armenian ones, is satisfactory. The negotiations are
under way. I would like to add that our republic's president and our
policy strongly condemn any manifestation of terrorism everywhere. We
addressed the Russian Foreign Ministry and offered our support and
assistance in setting up a delegation of representatives from all the
diplomatic missions in North Ossetia and in holding negotiations and
resolving this problem peacefully. Our representative is in Beslan
at the moment and we maintain permanent telephone contact.