On 1 September, 2004 more than 1,100 parents and children arrived at school No 1 in Beslan, many carrying flowers for their teachers, a tradition on the first day of the term. They were greeted by heavily armed Islamic separatist gunmen, mostly Chechen, who held them for three days, killing many of the male hostages.
In a bloody climax on 3 September, more than 330 people died in a series of explosions and firefights, but it is still not clear what sparked the carnage. Many surviving hostages blame local officials for failing to stop the gunmen reaching Beslan, and for allowing the tense stand-off to end in a bloodbath.
Once a sleepy town of around 35,000 in North Ossetia on the border with mainly Muslim Chechnya, where Russia has fought two wars against separatists, Beslan has become synonymous with the masscare, and its residents say they still live in fear.
IBTimesUK looks back at the horrific events that unfolded ten years ago.
1 September, 2004: People wait for news outside the school where gunmen wearing belts laden with explosives were holding people hostage in the town of Beslan, North Ossetia (an autonomous republic in the North Caucasus region of Russia). The Russian government originally said there were 200 to 400 hostages. It was later revealed that there were over 1,000, mostly children.(AFP)
2 September, 2004: Russian Interior Ministry troops stand guard outside the school seized by heavily armed masked men and women(Reuters)
2 September, 2004: An Ossetian sniper aims from a boarding school opposite the school seized by a group of gunmen(AFP)
2 September, 2004: A police officer carries a baby after the terrorists agreed to released 26 nursing babies and their mothers(Getty)
2 September, 2004: A Russian police officer carries Alyona Tskayeva from the school that was seized by heavily armed masked men and women(Reuters)
2 September, 2004: Russian soldiers take position outside the school(AFP)
3 September, 2004: A Russian special police soldier carries an injured colleague as soldiers and two injured women take cover behind an armoured personnel carrier during the rescue operation. Special forces stormed the school after the gunmen detonated explosives in the gym where hundreds of children were being held(AFP)
3 September, 2004: A Russian special forces soldier shouts near a body of a Chechen rebel during the rescue operation(AFP)
3 September, 2004: Soslan Kaziyev runs for cover after he was released from the school(Reuters)
3 September, 2004: Volunteers evacuate injured children during the rescue operation(AFP)
3 September, 2004: A man carries a boy out of the school. Russian special forces moved in after several loud explosions were heard and the gym roof collapsed(AFP)
3 September, 2004: A man carries an injured boy out of the school in the town of Beslan(Reuters)
3 September, 2004: A military firefighter investigates the burnt-out gym at the end of the siege(AFP)
4 September, 2004: The school is seen after the bloody end to the hostage-taking(Reuters)
4 September, 2004: People look for their relatives among the hundreds of charred dead bodies laid out outside the morgue in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia(AFP)
5 September, 2004: A woman cries in the ruins of the school gymnasium in Beslan as the first funerals began for the hundreds killed in the hostage siege(AFP)