2011 Minsk Metro bombing
|2011 Minsk Metro bombing|
Emergency services outside Kastryčnickaja Station
|Location||Kastryčnickaja metro station, Minsk, Belarus|
|Date||11 April 2011 |
17:55 local time (UTC+3)
|Weapons||Nail bomb with 5–7 kg TNT equivalent strength|
|Perpetrators||Lone wolves: Dzimitry Kanavalau and Vlad Kavalyou|
The 2011 Minsk Metro bombing occurred on 11 April 2011 when 15 people were killed and 204 were injured in an explosion within the Minsk Metro, Belarus. The explosion happened at the central Kastryčnickaja station at 17:55 local time.
Initially the cause of the explosion was unclear, but was found to have been a bomb. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko asserted that the explosion was aimed at undermining "peace and stability" and hinted at possible foreign involvement but also ordered an emergency investigation of domestic weapon storage facilities. The Prosecution Office launched a criminal investigation and classified the event as a terrorist attack.
Two suspects arrested on 13 April confessed to the bombing according to Belarus' deputy prosecutor general Andrei Shved. According to him they also pleaded guilty to the Vitebsk and Independence Day bombings but the motives remained unclear. The investigation, which included law enforcement agencies from Russia, Israel and Interpol confirmed this view. Interpol stated that fingerprint evidence confirmed that the Independence Day and Minsk Metro bombings were committed by the same person. The trials attracted international political condemnation and the verdicts passed out have been questioned, primarily by the Belarusian opposition and the EU. The bombing came at a time of economic problems and protests against Lukashenko's government. According to the investigation, the bomb was unique and the foreign investigators also expressed great interest in it. In March 2012 both perpetrators, Dzimitry Kanavalau and Vlad Kavalyou, were executed by shooting.
Previous bombings in the recent history of Belarus did not result in any fatalities. In September 2005, two bombings occurred in the northeastern city of Vitebsk. The former was blamed on criminal gangs, and the latter, in which 46 people were injured outside a cafe, was blamed on hooliganism. During the Belarus Independence Day celebrations on 4 July 2008, 54 people were injured when a bomb exploded at a concert in Minsk. Like the bombing at the Vitebsk cafe in 2005, the concert bombing in Minsk was blamed on hooliganism, and President Lukashenko stated that he didn't believe he was the target.
|Compilation of CCTV footage of the blast|
The explosion happened at 17:55 during evening rush hour at Kastryčnickaja station in the Minsk Metro. Like nearly every station in Minsk, Kastryčnickaja has an island platform, and during the explosion, trains were located on both tracks. According to the initial investigation, the bomb was located under a bench next to the inbound (Institut Kultury-bound) tracks. The bomb exploded next to the second car of an inbound train. At the moment of the explosion, there were 300 people in the area and an outbound (Uruchye-bound) train passed through the station without stopping. According to witnesses, there was "a flash and a bang" as passengers exited a train which had arrived at the station. The bomb was reported to have been packed with nails and ball-bearings and could have been detonated by remote control. The explosion carved a hole 80 cm in diameter. It was so powerful that it shook trains at the adjacent stations Pl. Lenina and Pl. Pobedy. The blast was equivalent to five to seven kilograms of TNT.
According to Interfax, the bomb was partially composed of fragments of metal. The device was a nail bomb; most of the injuries from the blast were caused by shrapnel. It is believed that the explosive device was radio-controlled and that the bomb was of advanced technical quality. Interior Minister Anatoly Kuleshov said the perpetrators sought to "kill as many people as possible."
The wounded victims were admitted to five hospitals in Minsk. Among the injured, 22 were in a serious condition, one of them died in the hospital. Another 30 suffered injuries of moderate severity.
A national day of mourning was declared for 13 April 2011. Black ribbons were attached to flags, and all entertainment events cancelled.
Like all metros built during the Soviet period, the Minsk Metro contains many artistic elements such as stylised lighting and decorative ceilings. In his speech following the explosion, the president suggested that the design of Kastryčnickaja station may have worsened the injuries. "The metro should be decorated in a way so that nothing will fall onto people's heads," Lukashenko said. "Not only from the blast. People also received injuries from objects that fell from the ceiling."
Following the attacks, the Interior Ministry began installing metal detectors to all stations.
President Lukashenko ordered a thorough investigation into the explosion. "There should be results every day. Work day and night," Lukashenko told the Belarus security apparatus. He urged Belarusian security officials to get in touch with Russian security to aid in the investigation due to their experience with terrorist attacks in the Moscow Metro.
The president said "We have been thrown a serious challenge. It requires an adequate response and it must be found. They will not let us have a peaceful life, I want to know – who". He made an appeal to the Belarusian population to assist in the apprehension of the perpetrators: "I would like to address the people honestly and openly: without you it will be difficult for us to find these monsters. You must help us." He also ordered the full transparency of the investigation and the full availability of information to the citizens.
Three residents of Minsk were detained "for spreading provocative rumors, sowing panic". These people were alleged to be spreading false information about the bombing on Internet forums and social networking sites.
The head of the investigation group, Deputy Prosecutor General of Belarus Andrei Shved, announced that several people were arrested on 12 April and the facial composite of the bomber was released. The head of the Belarusian State Security Committee Vadim Zaitsev said that three versions of the causes of the terrorist attack were being investigated: as a destabilisation attempt, the action of an extremist anarchist organisation and the action of an unhealthy person. Following the arrests, he said that the third version was now considered the correct one, that the attack was an act of an unhealthy person. Through cooperation with international investigators, it was confirmed that the perpetrator of the Metro attack was also linked to the Independence Day bombing in 2008.
Lukashenko declared that they may have knowledge into who "ordered the attack". He also claimed they had admitted their guilt and described the investigation by the police and the Belarusian State Security Committee as a "brilliant operation". He claimed that they admitted they were also guilty for the Vitebsk and Independence Day attacks. He also said their motives remained unclear. It was reported that psychiatrists interviewed the prime suspect and that he said that he "enjoyed the suffering of others" and did not claim any political motives. However, they considered him sane.
- Supranational bodies
- United Nations — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "I do not know about the exact motives of what happened, but, as reported, it was the result of deliberate action. If so, then this is totally unacceptable and must be condemned. Whatever were the motives behind it, one can never justify the use of violent methods."
- The Security Council issued a statement calling the incident an "apparent" terrorist attack. A diplomat[who?] from one of the 15 states on the Council said that: "The word 'apparent' is included in this statement for a reason. There are credible indications in Belarus saying there is a more than even chance that the government was behind this." Another diplomat[who?] said: "There was a lot of debate about this statement which is why it came out so late. But it just highlights international suspicions." The final statement read that "The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the apparent terrorist attack that occurred in Minsk, Republic of Belarus, on April 11, 2011, causing numerous deaths and injuries. They expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the victims of this heinous act and to their families, and to the people and government of the Republic of Belarus."
- European Union — High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said "I deeply regret the tragic loss of lives in the blast, which occurred yesterday. I want to express my sincere condolences and support to families of the victims and the people of Belarus". European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek expressed condolences and said "I wish a speedy and full recovery to the injured. The cause of the blast must be fully investigated".
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe — Chairperson-in-Office Audronius Ažubalis expressed condolences.
- CSTO — Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha expressed condolences.
- State officials
- Armenia — President Serzh Sargsyan sent condolences and expressed readiness to organize the treatment of victims in hospitals in Yerevan.
- Azerbaijan — President Ilham Aliyev stated "I am deeply shocked with the news about the numerous human casualties in the terrorist act in the Minsk metro. We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. On behalf of the people of Azerbaijan and on my own behalf I express our sincere condolences to you, family and friends of the victims, all the people of Belarus."
- China — Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said that China strongly condemns the attack and that "China supports the efforts of the Belarusian leadership to combat terrorism".
- Estonia — President Toomas Hendrik Ilves sent a letter of condolence to President Lukashenko which said "I am shocked by the tragic events in the Minsk metro. At this difficult time, our thoughts are with the Belarusian people."
- France — A statement from the Foreign Ministry described the incident only as an "explosion."
- Georgia — Press secretary of President of Georgia Manana Manjgaladze said that "The president and all Georgian people deeply sympathise with relatives and friends of those killed during the terrorist attack in Minsk".
- Israel — Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed his condolences.
- Kyrgyzstan — First Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov said that the "terrorist attack in Belarus will not affect the decision of Kyrgyzstan to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan".
- Latvia — President Valdis Zatlers expressed condolences to the people of Belarus in the wake of the explosion in the Minsk Metro, particularly expressing his concern for those who were injured or killed in the event and expressed hope that those who were hurt would soon get better. Foreign Minister Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis offered his condolences to the Foreign Minister of Belarus and to the people of Belarus.
- Lithuania — President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, Seimas Speaker Irena Degutienė, Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis express their condolences by the name of Lithuanian nation and condemned the violence in Belarus. Lithuania also offered to give free treatment in its resorts to all injured people.
- Moldova — Acting President Vlad Filat said "This tragedy, I firmly believe, should serve as a further consolidation of the countries in combating terrorism in all its manifestations in the name of peace and tranquility of all people of goodwill".
- Poland — Ambassador of Poland to Belarus Leszek Szerepka quoted the Foreign Minister as saying "Let me express my deep sympathy to the families of those killed and to the brotherly people of Belarus".
- Russia — President Dmitry Medvedev expressed his condolences He also expressed his hope that law enforcement agencies "will trace down the masterminds of the crime" and that "we will help Belarus." Further adding that ""The Belarusian authorities should take much effort to rehabilitate the general moods after the terrorist act." Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences and said "On behalf of the Russian government and myself, I extend deepest condolences. We know firsthand the meaning of such actions. Our sincere sympathy goes from the heart. We like no other, empathise with the fraternal Belarusian nation in its grief. We hope for a speedy full recovery of all injured people. You can count on any help and assistance from our side, including in the investigation of the incident".
- Tajikistan — President Emomalii Rahmon said "We condemn this act of violence and pledge to support all efforts to eradicate terrorism".
- Turkmenistan — President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow expressed his condolences.
- Ukraine — President Viktor Yanukovych stated "Together with the friendly people of Belarus we share the pain of those who lost loved ones. On behalf of the Ukrainian people and me personally, I express my sincere words of sympathy and support to families of the victims and I wish a speedy recovery to all injured".
- United Kingdom – Minister for Europe David Lidington stated that he was "deeply shocked and saddened by the casualties and loss of life" and that the United Kingdom "utterly condemns all such actions, and our thoughts are with all of those affected by this tragic event."
- United States – The State Department condemned the bombing but notably did not term it terrorism.
- Uzbekistan — President Islam Karimov sent his condolences to President of Belarus and said "With deep sorrow we took the news of the inhuman terrorist attack. I express my sincere condolences and ask you to convey our sympathy to relatives and friends of those killed and injured".
- Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez expressed his condolences.
- Vietnam — President Nguyễn Minh Triết expressed his condolences: "Vietnam is outraged and strongly condemns this terrorist act and is very confident that the culprits will be severely punished by law".
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus received condolences from the Foreign Ministers of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, Poland, Ukraine, Finland, Estonia and Japan on 12 April. On 13 April condolences came from the Foreign Ministers of Germany, Turkey, Iran, Italy and Russia. The President's office also received condolences from leaders of Turkey, Slovakia and Cuba.
- Political Reaction
Political interests outside of Belarus has questioned the official version of events as well as the investigation and court precedings, repeatedly calling for Belarus to pardon those convicted as well as abolishing the death penalty. According to the EU the investigation was not properly conducted and subsequently the trial not conducted on legal grounds, this point of view has even led the German Parliament to officially question the objectivity of the international investigation, accusing Interpol of willfully acquiescing to the "faulty" evidence provided by Belarusian investigators.
The press service of the Belarusian president reported that Israel, Russia and the United Kingdom offered to help in the investigation. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also offered all necessary assistance in the investigation of the incident. President Lukashenko responded in saying that the help must not be rejected under any circumstances. Subsequently, the Interior Ministry announced that the explosive specialists from these three countries would arrive in Minsk during the following day. Georgia and Iran also proposed to send all needed aid to Belarus.
On 12 April 2011, a team of three Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps doctors departed for Belarus in order to assist in the efforts following the subway attack. Leading the team was the head of the Medical Corps' trauma department, Alon Galzberg. The team began operations by examining the steps needed to be taken, while advising local authorities on trauma and post-trauma procedures. The team was dispatched following a formal request by the Belarusian Government. Israel also sent an expert team of Shin Bet specialists as well as a police forensic team and experts in the field of combating terror.
Execution of the convicts
Both Kavalyou and Kanavalau were executed by shooting sometime in early March 2012. The exact time and place of the executions of the convicts were kept secret. On 15 March 2012 the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the Belarusian government for implementing the death penalty. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry's press service stated that the resolution indicates serious interference in the internal affairs of the country. On 17 March 2012 Vlad Kavalyou's mother was informed. She received a notification saying that her son's execution had been carried out.
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