Ukraine explosions: Follow-up to 2011 ‘warning’?

Investigators have linked the blasts in Dnepropetrovsk with an explosion in the same city that killed one man last November. Four explosions struck the center of the Ukrainian city on Friday, injuring 29 people, including 9 children.

­The country’s Security Service is examining several possible scenarios for the blasts, which are being treated as a terror attack. The latest findings suggest that the same person might be behind last year’s incident and Friday’s attacks.

On November 16, 2011 an explosion at a bus stop near a downtown shopping center in Dnepropetrovsk killed a young local man. The incident shares certain traits with Friday’s blasts. Handmade explosives were used in both cases – perhaps even the very same substance – and the bombs were all planted in concrete trash bins.

When an explosion goes off inside such a bin, particles of concrete add to the bomb’s striking capacity.

“If more similarities are found in the two cases – we’re going to combine both sets of attacks into one criminal case,” the head of Ukraine’s Security Service Igor Kalinin told journalists.

The contents of all trash bins in a one-kilometer radius from the crime sites in Dnepropetrovsk have been extracted for examination.

Last November, the explosion virtually destroyed all evidence. Prior to the incident, anonymous text messages warning of the attack had been received. With Friday’s blasts, there was no warning, and so far, no one has claimed responsibility.

Police in Dnepropetrovsk remain on high alert, though there was no sign Saturday of the military patrols and armored vehicles deployed the day before. There are no roadblocks or identity checks on the roads entering the million-plus city. Nevertheless, all public events in Dnepropetrovsk have been cancelled till May 2.

The President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich is expected in the city on Saturday. He has promised a tough response to the attacks.

"We know that there are victims, we understand that this is another challenge for the entire nation," Yanukovich said.

Police have asked citizens to bear with possible vetting, and to report any information concerning the explosions.

The security services of Russia and Poland offered their help to investigate the blasts. Ukraine’s anti-terror center has also asked international organizations for assistance with the inquiry.

Friday’s blasts went off within the space of half an hour, injuring 29. Over 20 people remain in hospital.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense has ordered to tighten security at the country's military facilities following the blasts.

The attacks come at a sensitive time as Ukraine and Poland are preparing to co-host the Euro 2012 football tournament in a matter of weeks. Although Dnepropetrovsk is not one of the host cities, the incident has sparked discussion about security during football matches and the safety of foreign tourists.

Ukrainian authorities have promised that UEFA's confidence in the security measures undertaken for the tournament will not be betrayed. In an official statement released following the blasts, they say a smooth and festive tournament will be ensured.