Blast at Concert Injures Dozens in Belarus


MOSCOW -- A bomb exploded during an outdoor concert Minsk, the capital of Belarus, early Friday, injuring dozens of people.

The blast, believed to have been caused by a homemade explosive device, occurred about 1:00 a.m. as revelers were celebrating Belarus's Independence day, said Aleksandr Lastovsky, a spokesman for the Minsk police department. More than 20 people were injured, he said, describing the bombing as "an act of hooliganism." Belarus's interior minister said up to 40 had been injured, Interfax news reported. There were no immediate reports of fatalities.

No suspects have been identified

"Very shortly we will determine whether this was a terrorist act of something else," Vladimir Naumov, the interior minister, said.

Belarus is an autocratic country, saturated with police and security personnel, making such incidents extremely rare. During presidential elections in 2006, police and riot forces aggressively quashed what was for Belarus sizable anti-government protests. Nothing like those protests has occurred since.

The opposition Web site Charter '97 posted photos of bloodied victims being carried away by emergency personnel. One witness quoted by the Web site reported hearing a loud bang and feeling a shock wave when the bomb went off.

Amateur video circulating on the Internet immediately after the explosion showed ambulances arriving on the scene as music from the concert continued in the background.

Belarus's independence day marks the country's liberation from the Nazis in 1944 by the Soviet Army. President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko presided over holiday events earlier in the day but was not present at the time of the explosion.

Mr. Lukashenko later visited the scene to inspect the damage, Interfax reported.