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Deadly Blast Hits Belarus Subway, Killing 11

April 11, 2011

By RFE/RL

A rush-hour explosion at a subway station in the center of the Belarusian capital has reportedly killed 11 people.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told an emergency security meeting that around 100 people were also wounded in the explosion, which occurred during the afternoon rush hour at the Kastrychnitskaya (October Square) station, some 100 meters from the building that hosts the president's office.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. But Lukashenka told the meeting, "We must find out who gained by undermining peace and stability in the country," adding that he did not rule out the blast being "a gift from abroad."

Meanwhile, Deputy Prosecutor-General Andrey Shved has described the attack as an "act of terror."

A man who gave only his first name, Henadz, told RFE/RL's Belarus Service that he was unsure whether the explosion had struck a train or the platform.

'Pillars Of Fire'

An RFE/RL correspondent who was entering the subway when she heard the explosion, Valyantsina Aksak, reported seeing fire after the explosion and the subway station being pitched into darkness.

She said she saw "corpses" and people trying to help victims whose clothes were on fire.

Aksak said there were many commuters at the station when the explosion hit, around 6 p.m. local time. She said there was general panic as people tried to figure out what had happened. "Those who were near the explosion rushed to the opposite exit and many of them were on fire," Aksak said. "I saw several people who were simply pillars of fire."

At least 12 fire engines and 10 ambulances were on the scene, according to RFE/RL's Russian Service.

State news agency Belta, quoting its own correspondent at the scene, initially confirmed that several people had been killed.

In July 2008, a bomb blast at a concert attended by Lukashenka injured about 50 people in Minsk. No arrests in the case were reported.

Tensions have been rising in Belarus since December 19, when a massive demonstration against Lukashenka's landslide reelection sparked a crackdown by police in which more than 700 people were arrested, including seven presidential candidates.

with additional agency reporting

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/explosion_hits_minsk_belarus/3553950.html

Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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