Belarus blast, not far from leader, wounds 50

Local media later quoted Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov as saying a second bomb had been found in the capital and that it had failed to go off.

Belarus blast, not far from leader, wounds 50
About 50 people were wounded by a home-made bomb in Belarus's capital on Friday at an Independence Day concert attended by long-time ruler President Alexander Lukashenko, officials said.

Lukashenko was not far from the blast but was unhurt and did not appear to be the target, his spokesman said.

Local media later quoted Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov as saying a second bomb had been found in the capital and that it had failed to go off.

Presidential spokesman Pavel Legkiy told Reuters Lukashenko "reached the site of the explosion within several minutes. He did not stay long so as not to interfere with the work of the emergency services".

"This was not an attempted assassination on the president," he said, adding that the bomb was aimed at those attending the concert, held in a large park.

"That is my personal opinion, not as a specialist, but as a person who was at the scene ... Of course there can be a number of explanations and the truth will be established in the course of the investigation."

A police official said earlier the likely motive for the bomb was "hooliganism" -- a term commonly used by officials in former Soviet states to play down the significance of an attack.

Police initially said 40 people had been wounded but the Health Ministry later raised the figure to about 50.

Blast at concert

The bomb went off in a big square in Minsk shortly after midnight local time (2100 GMT), while thousands were attending the concert. A Reuters witness said the explosion left a pit 20 cms (7.874 inches) deep with blood spattered on the grass around it.

Another eyewitness told Reuters that he saw nuts and bolts around the area of the explosion.

"I heard a loud explosion and there was black smoke," said 28-year-old Sergey, who did not give his second name.

"People started shouting. No one stopped the concert. They just isolated the place around the explosion and emergency vehicles began coming."

Police said the discovery of the second device could help their investigation.

"There are quite a lot of traces on it, which will help us to establish what happened more quickly," the state-run BelTA news agency quoted interior minister Naumov as saying.

Reuters
Last Mod: 04 Temmuz 2008, 17:39
Add Comment