11 dead, 100 injured in blast at Belarus metro station

Explosion occurs in capital of Minsk as train enters station during evening rush hour; no indication of whether blast was a bomb or accident.

By REUTERS
April 11, 2011 21:54
1 minute read.
People carry a blast victim in Minsk.

Minsk explosion 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Eleven people were killed and about 100 were injured in a metro blast in the Belarussian capital Minsk on Monday, President Alexander Lukashenko was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

The state news agency BelTA said the blast occurred at 5.55 p.m. (1455 GMT) at the metro station Oktyabrskaya on a square of the same name about 100 meters (yards) from the administration building of President Alexander Lukashenko.

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There was no official word as to whether the blast had been caused by a bomb or an accident.



But a city police spokesman said Minsk had been placed on "heightened alert" after an explosion caused by an "unknown explosive device." "We are looking at all possible versions of what happened," he told journalists.



Lukashenko visited the site of the blast and called an emergency meeting of key ministers for later in the evening. An official statement was expected after that.



If the explosion was an act of deliberate violence it would be extremely unusual for Belarus, a tightly policed ex-Soviet republic of 10 million people which shares borders with EU members Poland, Latvia and Lithuania and with Russia and Ukraine.



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In July 2008, a home-made bomb sprayed nuts and bolts into a crowd attending an open air concert in Minsk attended by Lukashenko, wounding about 50 people.



Victims were carried out of the station and the injured were given on-the-spot medical treatment by ambulance workers and sent to hospital.

A Reuters correspondent saw at least one dead person lying on the ground, covered by sheeting, and a correspondent for Interfax news agency said he saw two dead bodies.



A 52-year-old man who gave his name as Igor said a train was coming into the station when the blast occurred on the platform.

"The doors (of the train) opened and then there was an explosion," he said. "I saw people lying on the floor without moving. There was a lot of blood."

Other witnesses quoted by news outlets spoke of a flash and a bang and debris falling from the ceiling of the metro station.

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