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Explosions rock Ukrainian city; at least 29 people injured

April 27, 2012 | 11:58 am

Ukraine bomb
MOSCOW -- A series of explosions rocked the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk on Friday, injuring almost three dozen people.

The explosions, officials said, were caused by small bombs placed in litter bins in the downtown area of the industrial city, about 280 miles southeast of Kiev. Officials said there were four explosions, while local residents said they heard five to nine blasts.

Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said at a briefing in Kiev that 29 people were injured, including 18 who were hospitalized.

President Viktor Yanukovich said, in televised remarks, “We understand that it is another challenge for us, for the entire country.

“We will think of a worthy response," he added. "I think we will get to the bottom of it.”

Speaking at an urgent session of Ukraine's parliament in Kiev, Vladimir Rakitsky, deputy head of the national Security Service, said that a terrorism investigation had been initiated.

One resident said the city population was in a panic. “Everyone is afraid and people are scared to go outside as we are expecting new attacks,” Marina Boychenko, a 38-year-old housewife said by phone from Dnepropetrovsk. “My two children and I are planning to go visit my mother who lives out of town and stay at her place until the situation calms down.”

No individual or group immediately claimed responsibility. But some theories quickly emerged: that the blasts were aimed at disrupting plans for an upcoming international soccer match, were set off by criminal gangs, or had a political aim.

The explosions came the day after Yulia Tymoshenko’s supporters handed photos of the allegedly bruised body of the jailed ex-premier to foreign diplomats. Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison term after being convicted of abusing her powers in signing Ukraine’s gas deal with Russia. She has accused prison guards of beating her.

“The explosions were obviously not designed to kill as many people as possible but they were most certainly aimed at aggravating the political situation in the country,” Vitaly Portnikov, editor-in-chief of TBI, a Ukraine television network, said by phone from Kiev. “Against the backdrop of the growing popular discontent in connection with Tymoshenko’s beating in prison, the attacks in Dnepropetrovsk play into the authorities' hands, diverting the public attention focus.”

Last November, an explosive device placed in a litter bin in downtown Dnepropetrovsk killed one person.


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 -- Sergei Loiko

Photo; A tram damaged in a bomb attack in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, on Friday. Credit: Nikolay Myakshykov / EPA