Over 50 injured in bomb blast at independence day concert in Belarus' capital

The Associated Press

MINSK, Belarus: A homemade bomb exploded at an outdoor concert in Belarus' capital early Friday, injuring at least 50 people. Officials blamed hooligans.

The blast took place in downtown Minsk at a concert marking the ex-Soviet nation's independence day. Minsk police spokesman Alexander Lastovsky said authorities had opened a criminal probe.

Lastovsky said more than 20 people were hospitalized, but the Health Ministry put that number at more than 50. Most had leg wounds.

Belarusian Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Alexei Usatov said the bomb went off about 12:30 a.m. The concert was held at the Hero City memorial, which commemorates Minsk's suffering during World War II.

Dmitry Kudyakov, a 32-year old engineer at the concert, said he felt a strong shock wave and saw smoke.

"People started crying," he said. "Some fell on me and there was a lot of blood."

The explosion was unprecedented in Belarus, a Baltic nation of 10 million that has been tightly controlled by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by the West.

Lukashenko, who was attending the concert, inspected the explosion site and urged officials to quickly track down the perpetrators.