Prosecutors in Belarus on Friday brought terrorism charges against two men accused of carrying out the Minsk subway bombing this month, and if convicted they could face the death penalty.

A bomb that killed 11 people and wounded more than 200 was placed on the platform at Minsk's busiest subway station on April 11.

Three suspected accomplices have been arrested, but they have not yet been charged.

Prosecutors have not identified any of the suspects, describing them only as Belarusian citizens under the age of 30 without previous convictions. The authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has described them as blue-collar workers.

In announcing the charges against the two men, Deputy Prosecutor General Andrei Shved said they carried out the bombing "with the goal of destabilizing the public situation and public order."

Lukashenko ordered investigators to question dissidents, adding to fears that the bombing is being used as a pretext to stamp out the last vestiges of political pluralism and dissent.

The government closed two of the most influential independent newspapers this week, and Information Minister Oleg Proleskovsky confirmed Friday that the decision was connected to their coverage of the metro bombing.

"As they dared to help some politicians dance on the bones after the terrorist act, such things will not be forgiven," Proleskovsky said.

The newspapers, Nasha Niva and Narodnaya Volya, reported suspicions that the government was behind the bombing. The suspicions were so widely circulated that Lukashenko felt compelled to deny them in a televised address.

Source: The Canadian Press