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Russian school hostage death toll at 350

BESLAN, Russia, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- The death toll in the Russian school hostage crisis has climbed to 350 in what President Vladimir Putin has called "an attack on our country."

"We must create a much more effective system of security," Putin said in a televised address Saturday. "We couldn't adequately react."

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Putin, in his fifth year as head of state, said: "It is difficult to speak and it is bitter. On our territory a terrible tragedy has happened. Over these last few days each of us has been suffering deeply."

At least 350 were confirmed dead -- about 155 were children -- in the attack by 34 terrorists, 27 of whom were killed and three of whom were in custody, CNN reported. Four others remained at large.

Officials said 10 of the terrorists, funded by an al-Qaida group, were from Arab nations.

In all, more than 700 people were injured, and 531 people remained in hospitals Saturday.

Russian Deputy Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky said more than 1,000 people had been held hostage in the school in Beslan.

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