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Ukrainian Premier Escapes Feared Assassination Attempt

Kyiv, July 16 (RFE/RL) -- A car carrying Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko exploded in Kyiv today and his office called it an assassination attempt.

Lazarenko's spokesman Vasil Mitarchuk told the Associated Press news agency that no one was hurt in the blast that occurred as the Prime Minister's car was passing over a bridge in Northern Kyiv on its way to the airport.

Mitarchuck said most of the government were considering the explosion an assassination attempt and were "terrified."

He said the trunk of Lazarenko's car exploded, damaging another vehicle in the motorcade. Officials said Lazarenko and his driver were the car's only occupants. Lazarenko was given medical help after the blast, but continued his journey to the airport and later flew to Donetsk in Southeastern Ukraine for talks with striking coal miners.

Our Kyiv correspondent reports that two militiamen travelling in the last car of Lazarenko's motorcarade were hurt from the blast. He says the explosion left a three meter wide crater in the road.

There is no information so far on the attackers.

The Interfax news agency said a powerful radio-operated explosive device was used in the attack. But Security Service officials said no traces of a bomb were immediately found in a police investigation after the explosion. Lazarenko was appointed prime minister in May.