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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth 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.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs