Belarusian authorities detain 3 suspects in July 4 explosion case

MINSK, July 9 (Itar-Tass) -- Law enforcement agencies in Belarus have detained three persons suspected of involvement in the July 4 explosion in Minsk during Independence Day celebrations.

The state-run information agency BelTA said on Wednesday, quoting the State Security Committee chief for Minsk and the Minsk region as saying, that there are "people having the skills of using explosives" among the detained suspects.

The explosion in Minsk downtown occurred at 1.30 a.m. Moscow time on July 4 during the concert on the occasion of Independence Day. A self-made explosive device filled with small metallic objects detonated in the crowd. As a result of the blast, 54 people were injured. Among them were citizens of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. A total of 46 people have been hospitalised.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he was displeased with the work of special services during the incident.

The president said the incident occurred on the place, "which was taken under special control by police"

Lukashenko said there were two wings of the opposition in the country. These are the Belarussian People's Front (BPF, a radical nationalist party) and the Communists (who oppose the authorities). He recalled that the Belarussian People's Front had condemned the explosions and that it expressed regret over the incident. The Belarussian Communist leader did not rule out that this might have been the authorities' provocation.

"This was an act, which wasn't aimed against me. But it was aimed against peaceful civilians. I'm guarded and protected. This act was committed by mean and cowardly people," Lukashenko said. "If they want to engage in a war, let us meet head-on. Why play dirty?" the president stressed, adding that the goal of criminals was to spread panic.