Massive Explosions Rip Afghan Munitions Depot : Ammunition Explodes in Afghan Army Depot Blast

From Times Wire Services

Massive explosions tore through an army ammunition depot in Kabul, Afghanistan, early today, lighting the sky with flames that rose more than 1,000 feet high, Western diplomatic sources said.

There was no immediate word on casualties, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

State-run Kabul Radio reported that the explosions were the result of an accident, the sources said. But Western sources said Muslim rebels may have been responsible.

The government, aided by about 115,000 Soviet troops, has been fighting a war against the Muslims since 1979, and the diplomats said there was no way to know if guerrillas were involved.


The diplomats said the depot belongs to the Afghan army’s 8th Division and is located in the densely populated Qarga Lake area. Houses in the immediate vicinity were badly damaged, they said.

Explosions were first heard late Tuesday and continued for more than five hours, shattering windows as far away as six miles, the sources said.

The Westerners said the blasts were loud and continued for two hours. Just after midnight, a ball of fire shot 1,000 feet into the air and was visible from many parts of the capital.

Blasts of lesser intensity continued until 3:30 a.m. today. At one point a huge mushroom of debris and flames--apparently formed when anti-aircraft weapons and missiles exploded--hung over the area, the envoys said.

Afghan security forces erected a 1.5-mile security zone around the depot and barred entry to everyone except government and emergency personnel.

Ambulances were seen racing in and out of the area and many fire trucks were called to the scene, the sources said.

Afghan Communist officials visited the depot today, the sources said.