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Uzbek Officials: 2 Killed in Tashkent Blast - 2004-03-29

Officials in Uzbekistan say at least two people have been killed in an explosion at a crowded market in downtown Tashkent.

Authorities say the blast in front of a children's toy and chothing store injured at least 20 other people in the sprawling (Chorsu) bazaar in Taskent's old city. Police sealed off area and an investigation was under way.

Uzbek officials said they were treating the explosion as a terrorist act.

An Uzbek foreign minister spokesman (Ilkhom Zakirov) said the blast was one of several acts committed by terrorists Monday, but did not provide any details of the other incidents.

The spokesman said a number of people were detained for questioning after the explosion in Tashkent, but could not say who may have been responsible for attack.

Russia's Itar-Tass news agency says the explosion was caused by a female suicide bomber. Russia's Interfax news agency reports that three policemen were killed in the blast, and another shot dead in a gun battle with bombing suspects.

Neither report has been confirmed.

In 1999, Uzbekistan was hit by a series of deadly bomb attacks that authorities blamed on Islamic extremists.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.