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Minsk metro bomb plot suspects face death sentence

Two men charged with a bombing that killed 14 people in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, face a possible death penalty. President Aleksander Lukashenko has initiated a crackdown on opponents since the attack.

Emergency services and members of the public helping take the injured to be treated

The bombing took place during the evening rush hour

Prosecutors in Belarus on Friday charged the two men accused of carrying out a bombing at Minsk's busiest subway station.

The men were charged with terrorism, an offence that carries the death penalty in Belarus.

Authorities have not identified the suspects, who are reported to have confessed to the April 11 bombing that killed 14 people and wounded more than 200.

Aleksander Lukashenko

Lukashenko has cracked down on opponents and critics in the wake of the attack

However, they were described as Belarusian citizens from the central city Vitebsk, both born in 1986 and with no previous convictions. If found guilty, the men face the possibility of being executed by a pistol shot to the neck.

Announcing the charges on Friday, Deputy Prosecutor General Andrei Shved said the incident had been planned with the intention of "destabilizing the public situation and public order."

The bomb exploded at rush hour in the station, which is close to the presidential offices and government buildings.

Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1996, initiated a crackdown on potential opponents and critics following the April attack.

A former member of the Belarus security services has alleged that the speed of the arrests indicated that the attacks had been organized by the authorities themselves.

"These people were used as mules who simply carried the bags," Vladimir Borodach told the Russian television network NTV last week.

Lukashenko has called for swift justice and harsh punishments in the case, which also involves a woman accused of being an accomplice.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Editor: Susan Houlton

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