Two killed as car explodes in Kazakh capital

ASTANA Tue May 24, 2011 12:57pm IST

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ASTANA (Reuters) - An explosion killed two occupants of a car near the Kazakh security service's remand centre in the capital Astana on Tuesday, shattering the windows of nearby houses, the Interior Ministry said.

The ministry said the blast, which occurred in the early hours of the morning, was not linked to terrorism. It said an explosive device appeared to have detonated automatically inside the red Audi-100, which had been parked on waste ground.

"The given circumstances indicate the absence of any signs of a terrorist act," the ministry said in a statement on its website, www.mvd.kz. It said the explosive device did not contain any shrapnel.

The ministry said the two occupants of the car who were killed in the explosion were male and of European appearance.

It did not identify the men directly, but said police had found documents belonging to a 48-year-old native of Kyrgyzstan and a 26-year-old citizen of Kazakhstan, both of whom resided in the northern Kazakh town of Ekibastuz.

The explosion is the second in less than a week outside a security service building in Kazakhstan, a country of 16.4 million people that has avoided the worst of the violence seen in some of its Central Asian neighbours in recent years.

A suicide bomber wounded two bystanders in the northwestern city of Aktobe on May 17. The prosecutor-general's office on this occasion identified the bomber as a 25-year-old suspected member of a criminal group.

The ministry said Tuesday's explosion occurred at 03:37 a.m. local time (2137 GMT on Monday).

A local newspaper reporter, visiting the scene several hours later, told Reuters by telephone that windows had been shattered in the two-storey buildings flanking the remand centre in the old part of the Kazakh capital.

The reporter said there appeared to be bloodstains at the scene, but that the car and other evidence of an explosion had been cleared away.

News agency Interfax-Kazakhstan reported witnesses as saying they had seen body fragments scattered at the scene. No other residents were harmed by the explosion.

(Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva; Writing by Robin Paxton)

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