The Russian hostage standoff ends in death:

At least 200 hostages were believed dead and over 700 injured as Russian troops today stormed the school seized by militants two days ago. 95 victims had been identified but health officials told the official Russian Interfax news agency that more than 200 people had been killed by fire from militants or died from their wounds as the hostage crisis in the North Ossetian town of Beslan, southern Russia moved towards a chaotic, bloody end. Russian officials said they had not planned to storm the building, but had gone in after an explosion was heard. One unconfirmed report suggested that a female militant wearing a suicide bomb belt had accidentally blown herself up, prompting the raid.

Thirteen of the 17 male and female militants earlier shot their way out of the school, where they had held hundreds of children and adults hostage since Wednesday. Troops, backed by tanks, were pursuing them. Officials said tonight that the fighting was over, but that four militants remained at large. They had been assumed to be Chechen, but the agency also reported that a Russian presidential aide said nine of the militants killed were “Arab mercenaries”.

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