Belarus opposition protest bomb blast crack-downs

Other News Materials 14 July 2008 23:26 (UTC +04:00)

A small group of opposition activists attempted a public protest of government crack-downs in the wake of a bloody bomb blast, the Interfax news agency reported on Monday.

Some two dozen protestors carrying banned red-white Belarusian flags gathered in October Square in central Minsk to demonstrate against what they called a state assault on opponents to the regime of President Aleksander Lukashenko, the dpa reported.

Police special forces troops used force to surround and then bundle the protestors out of the public area, and were making arrests.

The activists, most reportedly members of the anti-government Belarus People's Front (BF), told reporters that the Belarusian KGB currently was holding seven opposition activists, using the recent bombing as a pretext.

An unknown person or persons set off a homemade bomb filled with nuts and bolts at a July 4 outdoor rock concert in Minsk. The explosion injured 50, six seriously.

The opposition members held incommunicado for more than a week had nothing to do with the bombing, BPF spokesmen said.

Among those locked up without outside contact within a Minsk KGB prison were members of the White Legion, a radical group thought by the KGB to be working secretly for Lukashenko's overthrow, according to the report.

KGB spokesmen have been close-lipped on the investigation into the bombing. Last week the spy service issued a rare request for public assistance in finding the bomber or bombers.

The July 4 bombing marked a dramatic worsening of violence in tightly-controlled Belarus, where the opposition in the past has limited itself to peaceful marches, sometimes broken up by police.