April 14, 2011 / 2:00 PM / 8 years ago

Belarus says five detained after metro bombing

MINSK (Reuters) - Belarussian security officials have detained five people in connection with a deadly metro bomb attack, Deputy Prosecutor General Andrei Shved said on Thursday.

An individual at the Oktyabrskaya metro station before the explosion, in Minsk, April 14, 2011. REUTERS/Handout

President Alexander Lukashenko ordered opposition politicians to be questioned after a bomb attack in a crowded metro station in the capital Minsk killed 12 and injured about 150 people on Monday.

A day after officials said they had detained three people, including the man whom they accused of planting and detonating the bomb, Shved said two more had been taken into police custody.

“We have detained five suspects in this case,” he told reporters. Shved said all five were Belarussians under the age of 30, but provided no other details.

“The perpetrator (of the attack) has been found. Some of his accomplices have been identified,” he said.

Analysts say Lukashenko, an authoritarian leader who has run the former Soviet republic since 1994, could use the blast as an excuse to crack down on dissent at a time when Minsk struggles to keep the Soviet-style economy afloat.

The U.N. Security Council condemned on Wednesday what it called an “apparent terrorist attack” on a metro station in Belarus, phraseology that appeared to reflect uncertainty over who was behind it.

Two of the detained suspects — an electrician and a lathe-operator — confessed to carrying out the attack and admitted to two earlier bomb attacks, Lukashenko said on Wednesday. Smaller blasts in 2008 and 2005, which also have been blamed on some of this week’s detainees, caused no deaths.

Monday’s attack was the first lethal bombing in Belarus’s post-Soviet history.

Late on Wednesday, state television showed unnamed Belarussians thanking security services for a swift investigation and urging capital punishment for those responsible for the attack.

It also showed pro-Lukashenko politicians and officials denouncing suggestions of the government’s involvement as “irresponsible” and “illegal.”

“We will investigate all knowingly untruthful statements,” Shved said. “We will summon and question ... all those spreading panic and lies.”

Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov

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