Bomb packed with bolts, nuts

Minsk - A bomb packed with nuts and bolts injured up to 50 young revellers on Friday at a huge outdoor concert in the Belarussian capital Minsk attended by President Alexander Lukashenko, officials said.

Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov said a second explosive device that failed to detonate had been found at the same venue.

There was no immediate indication of who was responsible for the attack at the Independence Day concert which occurred shortly after midnight.

"An act of hooliganism took place at a gala concert in Minsk tonight. There was an explosion of an undetermined, apparently home-made device after midnight," Minsk's police force said.

"As a result, more than two dozen people have been injured," it added.

Naumov was quoted by Russia's Itar-Tass news agency as saying around 40 people had been hurt.

"There are different types of injuries, some of them heavy, but no one was killed," the minister said.

Naumov revealed that a second explosive device had been found and would help investigators in their inquiries on the bomb that detonated, Interfax news agency reported.

Nothing to do with politics

There were tens of thousands of people at the concert. The injured were taken to hospital in ambulances as police picked through the nuts and bolts that the bomb threw out.

It was not known whether the authoritarian Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, was at the concert at the exact time of the blast but he was shown in a white suit visiting the site with officials after the explosion.

The country's nationalist opposition, which fiercely opposes his rule, on Friday urged Lukashenko not to use the explosion to further limit democratic freedoms in the country and said the blast had nothing to do with politics.

Health ministry officials said around 50 people had been hospitalised, Interfax news agency reported. It quoted witnesses as saying they saw people with fingers and toes blown off in the moments after the blast.

"All the injuries I have seen are light or medium. No one's life is under threat. All the injuries are shrapnel wounds," Viktor Serenko, chief doctor at a hospital in Minsk that was treating seven of the injured, told AFP.

Igor Gurko, a doctor at another Minsk hospital, said they were treating 31 people injured in the explosion. Four of the injured being treated by Gurko and Serenko were in intensive care, the doctors said.

"I think that the explosion was organised by a hooligan who didn't like our beautiful and well-organised party. That provoked him to cause this blast," Minsk police chief Anatoly Kuleshov said in comments broadcast on television.

"Lukashenko has called for an urgent investigation into the reasons of the explosion," Belarus's state news agency reported. The news agency said the "We are Belarussians" concert continued after the explosion.

The Belarussian president, who is backed by Moscow, rules ex-Soviet Belarus with an iron fist and his regime is considered "the last dictatorship in Europe" by the United States.