Blast At Belarus Concert Injures About 50 People

(RTTNews) - About 50 people were injured when a homemade bomb exploded early Friday morning at a gala concert in Belarus' capital Minsk attended by Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, officials said.

The massive "We are Belarussians" outdoor concert in which some 2,000 musicians were due to perform - was organized to celebrate the July 3 Independence Day in the former Soviet state of Belarus.

Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov said around 40 people were injured some of them serious, but no one was killed.

Other reports quoting health ministry officials said around 50 people had been hospitalized and witnesses to the incident said they saw a lot of blood and people without fingers and toes in the moments after the blast.

An unfazed Lukashenko, who has been criticized by the West for ruling the ex-Soviet state with an iron hand since the mid-1990s, reacted by moving over to check the site of the blast.

Presidential spokesman said the attack was not an attempted assassination of the Lukashenko but was aimed at those attending the concert, held in a big square.

A criminal inquiry has been opened, with Minsk police chief suspecting "hooliganism" as bomb experts sifted through debris at the scene.

by RTT Staff Writer