Lukashenko sacks chief ally over bomb attack

minsk  Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko yesterday said he was dismissing long-time ally Viktor Sheiman from his post in charge of the national security council due to a bomb attack last week.

"I don't think you should remain in this post after the incident. You above all are guilty," Lukashenko said in televised comments, referring to the bomb blast at an outdoor concert on Friday that injured up to 50 people.

"You've been responsible to the president not for one year, but already 10 years now you have been organising such events. You didn't do anything," Lukashenko said at a meeting to assess the investigation.

Sheiman, who held the post of state secretary to the security council, has been at Lukashenko's side in a variety of posts since the Belarussian leader came to power in 1994.

The European Union and United States have said Sheiman was probably directly involved in the 1999-2000 disappearances of four people and he has been subject to an EU travel ban.

Lukashenko also criticised the emergency and security services in relation to Friday's incident, in which a home-made bomb stuffed with nuts and bolts ripped through a crowd of revellers during a concert marking Belarussian Independence Day on July 3.