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Minsk underground bomb: two suspects arrested

Belarus security services have arrested two men allegedly involved in the bombing of a busy undergro

Last Monday afternoon, an explosion rocked the Oktyabrskaya underground station in Belarus' capital city, Minsk. The device, which was made of 5 to 7 kilograms of TNT-equivalent explosives, exploded at 5:54pm, causing 12 casualties and injuring over 100 people.

Oktyabrskaya, located in close proximity of President Alexander Loukashenko's presidential palace, is one of the city's busiest underground stations. It was reported that close to 300 people were on standing on the platforms as the device went off.

Loukashenko - dubbed by many in the West as "Europe's last remaining dictator" - immediately called for an emergency meeting of his cabinet. "I can't exclude that this gift was brought to us from outside, but we need to look at ourselves", he said, before asking the security forces to "turn the country inside-out" in order to find the perpetrators of what local authorities called a "terrorist attack".

On Wednesday morning, judicial authorities announced that two men, including the alleged perpetrator of the attack, had been arrested by the police. No information concerning their identity or their potential motivations was disclosed.

In the aftermath of the attack, substantial fears grew that Loukashenko would use this situation to crack down on an already heavily muzzled opposition. He ordered that opposition leaders be questioned, arguing they knew who was behind the bombing.

Political tensions remain vivid in Belarus after the controversial re-election of Alexander Loukashenko at the last presidential elections on 19 December 2010. He has kept a tight grip of this former Soviet republic for the past 16 years.