- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

MINSK, Belarus | The toll in the Belarus subway bombing rose to 12 dead and more than 200 wounded Tuesday, and authorities said several people have been detained in what they are calling a terrorist attack.

The opposition, meanwhile, voiced fears that authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko would use the attack to launch an increased crackdown on dissent.

Belarus’ domestic security agency, which still goes under its Soviet-era name KGB, said it had identified the likely perpetrator of Monday’s explosion at a busy downtown subway station and was searching for him. It didn’t elaborate.

Interior Minister Anatoly Kuleshov said the bomb apparently was radio-controlled and police had created composite pictures of two male suspects using testimony from witnesses.

His office said the bomb, which had been placed under a bench at the Oktyabrskaya station, exploded as people were coming off trains during Monday’s evening rush hour.

Deputy prosecutor-general Andrei Shved said several people have been detained in the investigation of the blast, but gave no details. It was not clear if those people were regarded as suspects.

The Oktyabrskaya station is within 100 yards of the presidential administration building and the Palace of the Republic, a concert hall often used for government ceremonies.

There was no claim of responsibility for the blast and police did not identify any possible perpetrators. Mr. Lukashenko told officials that “foreign forces” could be behind the explosion, but didn’t elaborate.

On Tuesday, KGB agents searched one of the main Belarusian independent newspapers, Nasha Niva, editor Andrei Skurko told the Associated Press.

“They are blockading us in the editorial offices” and demanding the paper turn over videos taken at the blast site, he said.

Authorities said 204 people sought medical help after the blast and 157 of them were hospitalized, including 22 in critical condition.

Mr. Lukashenko, dubbed “Europe’s last dictator” by the West, was declared the overwhelming winner of December’s presidential election that international observers said was rigged.

He has run the former Soviet nation of 10 million with an iron fist for nearly 17 years, retaining Soviet-style controls over the economy and cracking down on opposition and independent media.