Blasts Hit U.S. And Israeli Embassies In Tashkent
TASHKENT (Reuters) - A series of simultaneous explosions struck the U.S. and Israeli embassies and the prosecutor's office in the Uzbek capital Tashkent on Friday, killing at least two people and wounding five.
The three blasts appeared to have been triggered by suicide bombers. Uzbekistan is a U.S. ally in the war on terror.
The action appeared clearly coordinated, as the trial proceeded in Tashkent of 15 people on charges of trying to overthrow the ex-Soviet state in connection with attacks in February that killed nearly 50 people.
The three buildings are spread across the modern city of two million people located in the heart of arid Central Asia.
Israeli sources said at least two people had died outside the Jewish state's embassy.
"There are two dead, both Uzbek citizens, and there may be a third dead," an Israeli source told Reuters of the blast outside the Jewish state's embassy. "The blast occurred outside the embassy."
Another security source said the blast occurred in the embassy's security screening area for people wanting to enter the building.
Israeli officials said they did not know of any claim of responsibility for the explosion.
The U.S. embassy said there were no known injuries in the blast which happened outside the embassy compound.
"There has been a confirmed explosion near the U.S. embassy in Tashkent. And there are no confirmed injuries at this time," the spokeswoman, reached by telephone from Moscow, said.
Russia's Interfax news agency quoted an embassy official as saying the blast had been caused by a suicide bomber with explosives attached to his waist.
Uzbek Interior Minister Zakirdzhon Almatov said five people were injured outside the prosecutor's office. Police sealed off the building after an explosion in the lobby area.
The defendants in the mass trial were said to have been followers of the extreme Islamist al Qaeda organisation.
Uzbekistan was a staging post for the U.S. operation that ousted the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan and has allowed Washington the use of an air base.
The administration of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who unabashedly uses tough methods to root out Islamic extremism, stands accused by rights groups of widespread human rights violations.