Tashkent, 16 February 1999 (RFE/RL) - A series of bomb blasts ripped through the Uzbek capital of Tashkent today as part of an apparent assassination attempt on President Islam Karimov. Karimov said on national television that the blasts were meant to kill him and to incite panic among the population. Itar-tass reports that six bombs went off in the city center damaging a government building and the Uzbek National Bank. Uzbekistan's interior minister, Zokirdzhon Almatov, says at least nine people were killed and 15 others wounded in the blasts.
Almatov also told a televised meeting of Uzbek leaders that Uzbek citizens are among those responsible for the bombings. But he also said the help of outside forces cannot be ruled out.
Karimov allows little opposition and has not permitted economic reforms that would attract the kind of foreign investment seen in neighboring Kazakhstan. But his country of 22 million people has not faced violent unrest anywhere near the scale seen in neighboring Tajikistan or Afghanistan.
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Uzbekistan: Bombs Kill Nine In Assassination Attempt