Uzbek official says man killed at Israeli carried only mock-ups of explosives

A man carrying mock-ups of explosives was shot to death by police outside the Israeli Embassy in Uzbekistan's capital Friday, a senior police official said.

The man earlier had been described as a would-be suicide bomber, but the police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the man was carrying only wooden objects that appeared to be explosives.

The victim has been identified as an unemployed ethnic Russian, who had a history of mental illness and had served prison time, the official said.

The man, wearing a military camouflage vest, approached the embassy, shouting something, the police official said. Security guards commanded him to lie down, but he refused, so they opened fire, hitting him with at least 10 shots about 15 meters (50 feet) from the embassy, the official said.

Israel's ambassador to Tashkent, Ami Mel, described the incident in an interview with Israel Radio.

"At about 9:30 (0430 GMT), a suspicious person approached the embassy. Following the events in Andijan we were on an especially high state of alert," Mel said, referring to the eastern Uzbekistan city where violent protests broke out Friday in support of businessmen on trial for alleged Islamic extremism.

"First of all, the local police were called.... A policeman approached him, he pushed the policeman away. Two of our security people called on him to stop - one of them a Russian-speaker - he shouted back that he hates Israel that he would show us."

"He continued to advance and then he was shot, I'm not sure by whom but he was shot in the legs, and when he tried to keep coming he was shot dead. In an examination of his body afterward, a fake bomb was discovered," Mel said.

He added that the attacker was dressed strangely, "in a long coat on a day when everybody was wearing short-sleeved shirts."

In Andijan, nine people were reported killed and 34 wounded and armed crowds surrounded police in two districts of the city.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov and other leaders flew to the city, while the Defense Ministry held an urgent meeting on the unrest, police and government officials said on condition of anonymity.

In southern Tashkent, dozens of police stood at either end of Abdulla Kahhor Street, where the Israeli Embassy is located, on Friday morning and prevented people from approaching. The building itself was surrounded by red police tape. An ambulance was seen entering the area.

It was the second known attempted attack against the Israeli Embassy in a year. In July, two Uzbek guards including the ambassador's personal bodyguard were killed in a suicide bombing at the embassy. The U.S. Embassy and Uzbek prosecutors' office were also targeted in nearly simultaneous suicide attacks then, which killed seven people in all.

Uzbek leaders blamed Islamic extremists for the bombings.

AZIZ NURITOFF, Associated Press Writer

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