11 dead in Minsk metro blast: Belarus president (Lead)April 12th, 2011 - 3:10 am ICT by IANS
Minsk, April 12 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Eleven people were killed in a blast that hit Belarusian capital Minsk’s Oktyabrskaya metro station Monday, said President Alexander Lukashenko while describing the blast as “a serious challenge” to the nation.
Some 40 people were hospitalised after the explosion, which occurred at 5.55 p.m. local time (14.55 GMT).
According to the police, the explosion happened as a train was standing at the station.
The blast occurred near the residence of Belarus President Lukashenko, who arrived at the scene shortly afterwards.
“I don’t exclude that this gift could have been brought to us by outsiders. But we have to look at ourselves as well,” said the president during a meeting with officials.
“Who gained by destroying the calm and stability in the country?” he asked. “Who did not like the stability in Belarus?”
He told the KGB - as the country’s security services are still known - to “turn the country upside down” to find those guilty.
He also informed the country’s defence minister to check all military warehouses for missing explosives.
There is as yet no information on the cause of the explosion, the first ever in the Minsk metro.
Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called Lukashenko to offer both condolences and assistance to the former Soviet republic.
The Belarusian leader said later that Russian experts would arrive Tuesday to help the KGB with the investigation.
Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, won disputed presidential polls last December.
Dozens of opposition figures, including political rivals were arrested after violent protests in Minsk following the announcement of the result.
While Belarus has been largely free of the terrorist violence that has plagued neighbouring Russia, some 50 people were injured in July 2008 when a bomb went off at an independence day concert that Lukashenko was attending.
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