2005-09-24 03:04:00

Belarussian president says Vitebsk explosion was not terrorism

MOSCOW, Sept. 23 (Xinhuanet) -- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said the Vitebsk explosion injuring some 50 people was not a terrorist act, the Itar-Tass news agency reported on Friday.

"I understand that it is very hard to stay intact in the midst of this boiling pot of terrorism. Why do we think that terrorism is far away from us and cannot occur here? The society should be on the alert," Lukashenko said Friday at the 39th congress of the Belarussian Youth Union.

"Someone was drinking beer, something exploded and people were hurt," the president said.

Lukashenko admitted that the Belarussian law enforcement agencies cannot combat terrorism unaided. "Our police force is not large, and the size of the State Security Committee personnel is meager as compared to other countries. They cannot provide for our security unless we help them," he said.

The problem of order will become increasingly important as Belarus' presidential election campaign period is coming near, Lukashenko noted.

A homemade explosive device went off near a cafe in Vitebsk, Belarus, on Thursday evening, injuring some 50 people, but killing nobody.

In the incident about 25 of the wounded residents had been hospitalized, four of them were in intensive care, the report quoted city police as saying on Friday.

A similar explosion occurred in Vitebsk on Sept. 14. A metal box stuffed with nails and pieces of metal blew off at a bus stop in the traffic peak, leaving two people injured. Enditem