News / Europe

Eleven Dead, Scores Injured in Belarus Subway Blast

Eleven Dead, Scores Injured in Belarus Subway Blast
Eleven Dead, Scores Injured in Belarus Subway Blast
James Brooke

A powerful bomb exploded in a Minsk subway station on Monday, killing 11 people and wounding 126 others.  

The underground bomb exploded during rush hour in the Belarussian capital, cutting into two trains filled with evening commuters at the system’s only transfer station.

Belarussian television images from the station showed smoke-filled subway cars with their windows blown out as firefighters carried black plastic body bags.  Rescue workers picked their way down a shattered escalator and across a blood stained platform.

A commuter interviewed by Belarussian TV described how she had escaped Oktyabrskaya station by keeping quiet and not panicking. She said she made it through the smoke to the subway station exit.

Above ground, traffic in central Minsk was closed as first aid workers bandaged dazed commuters on stretchers, some with blood running down their faces.  Smoke rose out of the station, which is located about 100 meters from the offices of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.  The president visited the scene and gave reporters the death toll.

Deputy Prosecutor Andrei Shved told reporters at the scene that the bombing was an "act of terror" and that a criminal probe has been opened.  Terrorism is rare in Belarus, a tightly policed country of some 10 million people with a high degree of religious, racial  and linguistic uniformity.

But the political mood soured sharply after elections last December.  President Lukashenko brushed aside widespread criticisms of vote fraud and claimed victory.  When protesters marched through the center of Minsk, past Oktyabrskaya station to the president’s offices, riot police arrested 700 demonstrators, including seven rival presidential candidates.

Since then, hundreds of Mr. Lukashenko's political opponents have fled into exile in Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic.  Several detainees who were released gave reporters graphic accounts of what they called torture at the hands of Belarus security forces.

Hours before Monday's subway blast, Belarus authorities announced the closing of two opposition Internet Websites.  In the only other major terrorist incident in recent years, about 50 people were injured when a bomb exploded in 2008 at a concert attended by Mr. Lukashenko in Minsk.  No arrests were ever reported.

Russia has been hit during the past two years by a series of terrorist bomb attacks.  On March 29 of last year, two female suicide bombers killed 40 people and wounded dozens of others during the morning rush hour on the Moscow subway.  In January of this year, a suicide bomber killed 37 people at Moscow's busiest airport.

Last month, Doku Umarov, the man who claimed responsibility for those attacks, survived  an air strike on his encampment in southern Russia's Caucasus mountains.  Umarov, Russia’s most wanted Islamist rebel, vowed revenge in an audiotape released last week.

Russia and Belarus are united in a customs union and travel between the two countries is visa free.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid