Dozens wounded in Belarus blast

At least 50 people are injured in Belarus when a homemade bomb explodes during a concert in the capital attended by the country's president.

President Alexander Lukashenko wasn't hurt in the blast, and it was unclear if the attack was an assassination attempt. There have been no reported claims of responsibility.

The blast occurred at about 12:30 a.m. local time (2100 GMT) at the Hero City memorial, a World War II monument in central Minsk, where thousands had gathered for the Independence Day concert.

Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov said that an unexploded homemade bomb was later found by the police in the area which was also packed with hardware.

Meanwhile, the Minsk police department spokesman Alexander Lastovsky said, "It was an action by hooligans". He said that more than 20 people were hospitalized, but the health ministry put the number at more than 50.

Viktor Sirenko, chief doctor of the city's Emergency Hospital, said that three people were in a critical condition, adding that they were struggling to save their lives.

The wounded were in their 20s although two children aged 5 and 6 as well as a number of elderly people were also among the victims.

Elsewhere, some correspondents said that attacks of this kind were unprecedented in Belarus, which is tightly controlled by Lukashenko but the country was witness to another bomb attack in 2005. That was when two bombs went off in the city of Vitebsk, wounding about 50 people; one was at a bus stop and the other at an outdoor cafe.

The Independence Day holiday commemorates the day in 1944 when the Soviet army drove Nazi forces out of Minsk. Before Lukashenko took power, Belarus celebrated Independence Day on July 27 to mark its 1990 declaration of sovereignty from the Soviet Union.