Ukraine ammo dump blasts blamed on ‘possible sabotage’

An explosion at an ammo dump in Ukraine, October 2018

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Reuters

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Ukraine’s defence ministry says this is likely an instance of “sabotage”

Explosions and fire have hit an ammunition depot in Ukraine in a possible act of sabotage, officials say, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people.

Videos on social media showed the blaze and explosions on the horizon near Ichnya, Chernihiv region.

Around 10,000 people were moved from the area around the depot, about 109 miles (176km) north-east of the capital Kiev, emergency services say.

There were no casualties.

Deputy commander of the General Staff, Rodyon Tymoshenko, told a news conference the incident began with four explosions across the depot.

“The intensity of the blasts suggests that it was most probably sabotage,” he said.

Security services are now investigating the incident.

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State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters

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Authorities evacuated residents from the area around the base

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman earlier tweeted that local authorities would provide accommodation for the evacuated, and that emergency services were on hand to help people.

The initial explosion at the base occurred at around 03:30 local time (00:30 GMT).

From 04:22 a 20km radius airspace closure came into effect, emergency services say. Rail and road links in the area are also suspended, and gas and electricity supplies have been disrupted.

Ammunition depot explosions have happened before in Ukraine, as the country continues its fight against pro-Russian separatists in its eastern regions.

In September 2017, 28,000 people were evacuated after a huge fire raged at a military arms depot in central Ukraine, while in March that same year an ammo dump at a base near Kharkiv suffered a series of explosions.

Moscow denies sending troops and weapons to help separatists in the conflict, but admits that Russian “volunteers” are helping the rebels.

Ukraine ammo dump blasts blamed on ‘possible sabotage’

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