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At Least 20 Killed In Russia Explosion

11 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russian officials say at least 20 people were killed in the northern city of Ukhta today after someone threw a bottle filled with a burning chemical substance into a local trade and shopping center.

The explosive set the two-story building on fire. Barred windows complicated evacuation efforts, trapping many of the victims in the inferno.

One of the survivors, a saleswoman in the shopping center, criticized local first aid efforts: "An ambulance arrived, but they came empty-handed. The first people to provide first medical aid were pharmacists from our own pharmacy here. They had to do it because the only ambulance that arrived didn't have anything -- they didn't even have bandages, nothing at all."

Local officials quote witnesses as saying two teenagers are believed to be behind the attack. It is not clear if they have been apprehended. Local prosecutors have opened a criminal case and established a special commission to investigate today's attack.