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Last Updated: Friday, 30 July, 2004, 19:39 GMT 20:39 UK
Two killed in Uzbekistan blasts
Blast damage at general prosecutor's office
One blast went off in the entrance hall of the prosecutor's office
A series of explosions in the Uzbek capital Tashkent have left two people dead and at least nine injured.

The Israeli and US embassies appear to have been targeted along with the prosecutor general's office in three apparent suicide bombings.

President Islam Karimov cut short his holiday in the Crimea region of Ukraine to return home.

The explosions came days after 15 alleged Islamist militants went on trial in Tashkent.

They are accused of involvement in a wave of violence last spring in which at least 47 people were killed.

Islamist websites are carrying competing claims of responsibility for Friday's attacks.

Guards killed

Two local men guarding the Israeli embassy were killed in the blast near the building's entrance.

Uzbek foreign ministry spokesman Ilkhom Zakirov said seven people were wounded in a blast in the entrance hall of the prosecutor general's office, and two in the blast near the US embassy compound.

US and Israeli officials said none of their staff were among the casualties.

"The United States deplores this act of terrorist violence," state department spokesman Adam Ereli said in Washington.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Avi Pazner said the incidents again demonstrated the international nature of terrorism.

"Peace-loving countries, democracies, must unite to fight this scourge," he said.

Aid withheld

Uzbekistan has been a staunch ally of the US in its war on terror.

American troops have been based there since soon after the attacks of 11 September 2001, and it acted as a staging post for US forces during the fight to oust the Taleban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

But the Uzbek authorities are widely accused of human rights abuses against opponents of authoritarian President Karimov, who has ruled the country since it ceased to be a Soviet republic.

Earlier this month, Washington withheld aid from Uzbekistan over what it termed "unacceptable" human rights violations.

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Country profile: Uzbekistan
20 Jul 04  |  Country profiles

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