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There's been international condemnation of a series of suicide bomb attacks that hit the Uzbek capital Tashkent yesterday. Three people have now died as a result of the blasts, which targeted the U.S. and Israeli embassies and the state prosecutor's office. But it's still unclear who carried out the explosions.

31 July 2004 -- The attacks came within 10 minutes of each other. Three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the U.S. Embassy, the Israeli Embassy, and in the lobby of the state prosecutor's office.

Two Uzbek guards at the Israeli embassy died immediately. A third victim, an Uzbek policeman guarding the U.S. embassy, died in hospital 31 July. Eight others are still being treated for injuries.

Condemnation came swiftly from Israeli and U.S. officials, while United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed his dismay through a spokeswoman: "The secretary-general condemns these criminal acts in the strongest terms. Targeting of diplomatic missions and civilians is a crime that cannot be justified by any cause."
But it remains unclear what that cause is -- and who carried out the explosions. Islamist websites have carried competing claims of responsibility for the attacks.


But it remains unclear what that cause is -- and who carried out the explosions. Islamist websites have carried competing claims of responsibility for the attacks.

But Hassan al-Hassan, deputy representative in London of Hizb ut-Tahrir, one of the three groups named as claiming responsibility, said they were not involved: "Some news agencies and news websites on the Internet have linked the explosions in Tashkent to Hizb ut-Tahrir. That is completely incorrect."

Uzbekistan is a key Central Asian ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism and officials have blamed Islamic militants allegedly linked to Al-Qaeda for a previous wave of violence in March that left 47 people dead.

The latest attacks came four days after Uzbekistan put 15 suspects on trial for involvement in those earlier attacks.

A top antiterrorism official told the Associated Press today that he believes the two waves of violence are connected.

Oleg Bichenov, Tashkent police antiterrorism chief, said they were the work of the same group, previously identified by Uzbek officials as Jamiat (society).

But a spokeswoman for the prosecutor-general, Svetlana Artikova, said today that investigators are considering "all options."

(international news agencies)
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