On 1 September 2004, a group of armed rebels took over 1,000 children and adults hostage at School Number One in the town of Beslan. The standoff lasted three days. On the third day, Russian forces stormed the building with tanks and heavy weaponry. More than 330 hostages – mostly children- were killed.
President Putin used the disaster as a catalyst for a new program mobilizing the country in the fight against terrorists and strengthening the powers of the president. While Chechen separatists claimed responsibility for the siege, they blamed Russian authorities for the tragic ending.