News / Europe

    Belarus Police Release Sketch of Subway Bombing Suspect

    Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, center, accompanied by his bodyguards, looks at the blast site inside the Oktyabrskaya subway station in Minsk, Belarus,  April 11, 2011
    Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, center, accompanied by his bodyguards, looks at the blast site inside the Oktyabrskaya subway station in Minsk, Belarus, April 11, 2011
    James Brooke

    The toll from the Minsk subway bombing has risen to 12 dead and 204 injured as Belarus police and politicians struggled for answers.

    Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko ordered his police to "turn everything inside out" as the Central-European nation struggled with its worst terrorist attack since winning independence from the Soviet Union two decades ago.

    President Lukashenko ordered authorities to find those "seeking to benefit from exploding the calm and stability in the country."

    According to Minsk police, a bomb with the explosive power of five kilograms of TNT exploded under a subway station bench at the peak of the Monday evening rush hour. Packed with nails, bolts, and ball bearings, the bomb cut through hundreds of commuters standing on the platform or on an arriving train. Twenty survivors are in critical condition. Several people lost arms or legs.

    Unlike the bombs that hit transportation targets in Moscow during the past year, this bomb apparently was made of gunpowder and set off by remote control.  Saying there was no suicide bomber, police officials released the composite sketch of the prime suspect a well-built man in his late 20s.  Three men have been detained for questioning in the Belarus capital.

    The bomb blew up in the metro’s lone transfer station, at the downtown intersection of the system’s two lines.  On Tuesday, one line resumed service.  The second is to reopen Wednesday.  Traffic jams formed around the city of 1.8 million people, the biggest city between Warsaw and Moscow.

    The bomber chose a station about 100 meters from the presidential offices and across a street from the concert hall where Mr. Lukashenko was inaugurated in January, following elections widely criticized as fraudulent.

    European Council on Foreign Relations Belarus expert Jana Kobzova watched President Lukashenko on TV Tuesday.  She said the massive bomb blew up the president’s long-cherished claim his authoritarian rule ensures peace and stability for the nation. "I have never seen him so nervous.  He did not actually blame anyone but the government and themselves," she said.

    She said that after the metro bomb, Belarus now looks more and more like Russia, an authoritarian country marked by political violence.

    Resident Yaroslav Romanchuk describes how the bomb was a big shock for normally quiet Minsk.  He says he walked past the bombed station a few minutes after the explosion. "When I was walking past that particular station, people could not even believe it was a terrorist act.  They could not even voice those words 'terrorist act.'  They talked about an explosion of the gas or some technical accident," he said.

    Romanchuk, a former opposition candidate, predicted Belarus authorities would turn on the opposition.

    On Tuesday, KGB officers raided the offices of the nation’s lone opposition newspaper, Nasha Niva, saying they were searching for photos and videos of the subway explosion.  Border police also carefully checked cars leaving Belarus for Russia.  In January, Belarus and Russia started a customs union and eased border controls.

    President Lukashenko raised the possibility of foreign involvement in a televised lecture to KGB officials He said he does not rule out that this gift was a gift from abroad.  But he cautioned authorities need to also look in Belarus.

    No group has publicly claimed responsibility for the bombing.

    KGB head Vadim Zaytsev told reporters in Minsk the KGB is looking into three possible motives for the attack: the destabilization of the situation in the country, revenge by extremist organizations or the act of a mentally ill person.

    But the day after the bombing, Kobzova agreed with independent analysts who discounted theories the bomb was the work of Russian Islamist terrorists or a radicalized faction of the nation’s anti-Lukashenko opposition. "It is difficult to imagine the opposition behind this attack.  Opposition is quite disorganized at the moment.  Many of their people are still in prison.  They have no reason whatsoever to do this," she said.

    Kobzova also predicted the bomb would be used as a pretext for more pressure on the Belarus’ political opposition.

    The leader of the Belarusian Party of the Left, Sergei Kalyakin, says he hopes the police will arrest the perpetrators without further cracking down on constitutional rights. He said the people that planned and carried out the bombing cannot be considered human beings.

    That view was held by many Minsk residents who visited the station, lighting candles and placing flowers.  Wednesday has been declared an official day of mourning for the entire nation.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora