Belarus subway blast kills 11

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — An explosion tore through a key subway station in the Belarusian capital of Minsk during evening rush hour Monday killing 11 people and wounding 126. An official said the blast was a terrorist act.

President Alexander Lukashenko did not say what caused the explosion at the Oktyabrskaya subway station, but suggested outside forces could be behind it.

“I do not rule out that this gift could have been brought from outside,” Lukashenko said. The authoritarian leader, under strong pressure from the West over his suppression of the opposition, has frequently alleged outside forces seek to destabilize his regime.

Deputy prosecutor-general Andrei Shved said the blast was a terrorist act, but did not give further details.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw heavily wounded people being carried out of the station, including one person with missing legs.

Several witnesses told The Associated Press that the explosion hit just as passengers were stepping off a train about 6 p.m. The Oktyabrskaya station, where Minsk’s two subway lines intersect, was crowded with passengers at the end of the work day.

The station is within 100 yards of the presidential administration building and the Palace of the Republic, a concert hall often used for government ceremonies.

Lukashenko visited the site about two hours after the blast and left without comment. He later ordered that the country’s feared police to “call in all forces and turn everything inside-out” to investigate the blast.

About five hours after the blast, Health Minister Vasily Zharko said 11 people were killed and 126 people were wounded, 22 of them severely.

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