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Politician Injured in Ukraine

October 3, 1999

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) _ Assailants hurled two hand grenades into a crowd attending an electoral meeting of a top presidential contender in Ukraine, injuring the politician and dozens of other people, police said Sunday.

The attack on Natalia Vitrenko, a radical and outspoken leftist, was the most serious outburst of violence in the heated campaign leading to the Oct. 31 presidential ballot in the former Soviet republic.

Vitrenko is considered to be one of the most serious challengers to the incumbent, President Leonid Kuchma, and has been running second after the president in public opinion polls. Two suspects were detained after the attack, regional police said.

Police said the attack occurred Saturday evening in Inguletsk, a township 12 miles outside the southeastern industrial center of Kryvyi Rih.

Vitrenko’s chief adviser said the politician suffered superficial shrapnel wounds to her stomach and leg. The aide, Volodymyr Marchenko, said he also was injured in the arm and leg.

Marchenko told the Interfax news agency that he heard two explosions as Vitrenko and hear aides prepared to enter their car following the meeting in Inguletsk, and described ``pools of blood″ at the site.

``It was a terrorist attack aimed at eliminating″ Vitrenko, he said.

A total of 33 other people required medical help, said Yuriy Chornovol, chief doctor of a Kryvyi Rih hospital, where the wounded were taken after the blasts.

Eighteen people were hospitalized, including two in serious condition and two in critical condition, Chornovol told The Associated Press.

Security officials in Kiev said the assailants apparently used RGD-5 hand grenades and confirmed that some suspects have been detained.

Ukraine’s deputy interior minister, Mykhailo Kornienko, described the suspects as residents of the southern Russian region of Rostov.

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