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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tanzania munition dump blasts kill at least 17

The blasts went off inside the Gombo la Mboto army base
DAR ES SALAAM — A series of blasts levelled several arms depots at a Tanzanian army base and killed at least 17 people, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said Thursday, in the second such incident in two years. NTV Kenya, however, reports 32 dead.

The blasts, which the prime minister said also left 145 people wounded, went off inside the Gongola Mboto army base in Dar es Salaam late Wednesday and destroyed several arms and ammunition depots. "By this morning, there were 13 bodies at Amana hospital, two at Temeke hospital and two more at Muhimbili national hospital," he told parliament in a session aired live on state radio.

Pinda said he had convened an emergency security meeting over the blasts and added that the country's armed forces were investigating the incident. There was no indication of foul play and such incidents have happened before in Tanzania. In April 2009, 26 people were killed and hundreds wounded by a string of powerful blasts at an arms depot in Dar es Salaam, which officials said were accidental.

The series of explosions showered the entire city with debris and shrapnel, causing a panic among the population and bringing back memories of the 1998 bombing of the US embassy. The 2009 blasts in the Mbagala district, located around 13 kilometres (eight miles) from the city centre, set off rockets, artillery and mortar shells, and displaced thousands of people.

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