Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Opposition says government, not terrorists, behind blasts

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KYIV, Ukraine -- Four explosions rocked an eastern Ukrainian city on Friday, injuring 27 people. Authorities say it was a terrorist attack, but an opposition lawmaker claims it could be a government plot to divert attention from the imprisonment of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Top law enforcement officials rushed to Dnipropetrovsk, 400 kilometres southeast of Kyiv, to investigate, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility. The violence undermined Ukraine's security just weeks before it co-hosts the European soccer championships in June.

Many Ukrainian officials called the blasts terrorist attacks, including deputy prosecutor Gen. Yevgeny Blazhivsky. Ukraine has not been afflicted with political terrorism but there have been previous explosions connected to criminal extortion.

President Viktor Yanukovych vowed to punish the perpetrators.

The opposition party led by jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, however, suggested the government may have organized the blasts in order to deflect attention from Tymoshenko's imprisonment and alleged prison abuse.

The president's office declined to comment on the opposition charges.

The first of four explosions rocked a tram stop shortly before noon, injuring 13 people, an Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman said. The bomb was planted in a garbage bin. The second bomb, also in a garbage bin, went off about 40 minutes later near a movie theatre and a trade school, injuring two adults and nine teenagers. A third blast in the city centre wounded three people and a fourth, also downtown, caused no casualties.

Television footage showed passers-by walking across broken glass trying to help a moaning victim of the tram-stop explosion, while others bandaged a bloodied arm of a middle-aged man. An elderly woman with blood on her legs lay on the ground and pleaded with someone to call her daughter. Other victims were put on stretchers and transported into ambulances.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 28, 2012 A32

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