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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 July 2006, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Trans-Dniester blast kills eight
Wreckage of the minibus in Tiraspol
The blast happened near the city centre
At least eight people have been killed in an explosion on a city minibus in Moldova's breakaway Trans-Dniester region, officials say.

More than 20 people were injured - some seriously - in the blast in the city of Tiraspol. Officials said they believed it was caused by a bomb.

The authorities issued an urgent appeal for donors to help the badly wounded.

Trans-Dniester, which broke away from Moldova in a 1991-1992 war, is not internationally recognised.

The blast took place at about 0700 (0400 GMT) at a crossroads near the city centre.

"The blast was so powerful that the roof of the minibus was thrown a distance of about 100 metres, and clothes were ripped off the bodies of the victims," said Trans-Dniester's interior ministry spokesman, quoted by Russia's RIA Novosti news agency.

Map of Moldova, including Trans-Dniester

Several people were injured inside a nearby trolleybus, officials said.

Experts are working at the scene trying to determine the cause of the explosion.

However, Trans-Dniester's interior deputy minister Oleg Belyakov said it could have been caused by an explosive device which was accidentally triggered.

Trans-Dniester, a mainly Russian-speaking region, has been tense since March, when Moldova and Ukraine imposed a new customs regime. It requires exporters in Trans-Dniester to register with the Moldovan authorities.

The Trans-Dniester administration says it amounts to a blockade.

Russian troops are deployed in the region to protect the separatists.

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