The bell tolls for us all now

10th September 2004 at 01:00
The unexpectedly peaceful start to France's new school year has been overshadowed by the horrific new term in Russia but both are linked. In Beslan, southern Russia, at least 335 pupils, parents and teachers perished in bloody mayhem, hundreds dying trapped in School No 1's gym as the hostage-takers' suicide bombs went off. Dozens of children were shot as they tried to escape - one of them 46 times.

In France, Muslim organisations postponed their battle against the ban on wearing of headscarves and other religious symbols in schools as it came into force, in solidarity with two French journalists held hostage in Iraq by militants who want the ban scrapped.

Three years after the 911 attacks demonstrated that no country is immune from the threat posed by terror groups, it is time to assess how far all schools are potential targets now and to take precautionary measures.

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