Chad in chaos as a military depot fire sparks explosions

Anti-government demonstrators set a barricade on fire during clashes in N’Djamena, Chad, Thursday Oct. 20, 2022. Chadian security forces have opened fire on anti-government demonstrators in the country’s two largest cities killing at least 60 people, the government spokesman and a morgue official said. Authorities imposed a curfew after Thursday’s violence, which came amid protests in the central African nation against interim leader Mahamat Idriss Deby’s two-year extension of power. (AP Photo)

A massive fire erupted late Tuesday at a military ammunition depot in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital, triggering explosions and sending weapons flying into the air. 

The incident caused significant property damage and casualties, the government confirmed.

Residents in the Goudji area, where the depot is located, reported hearing blasts from miles away. AFP journalists witnessed projectiles lighting up the night sky as they detonated mid-air. 

The intense explosions even caused roofs to be blown off homes in nearby Amsinene. 

Fearing collapsing structures, residents like Kadidja Dakou and her children sought refuge on the streets with their neighbors.

President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno took to social media to express his condolences to the victims’ families and promised a swift investigation. 

While the exact number of casualties remains unclear, Deby acknowledged both deaths and injuries from the blaze.

Foreign Minister Abderaman Koulamallah urged the public for calm, acknowledging the severity of the incident with “huge explosions” at the depot. 

The location of the depot, situated near the international airport and a French military base, raises concerns about potential collateral damage. 

A French official confirmed to AFP that the fire ignited “ammunition of all calibres,” causing widespread explosions.

This incident comes amidst ongoing political tension in Chad. President Deby, who secured a controversial victory in the May 6th election, now faces the task of managing this crisis while addressing concerns over the legitimacy of his recent win.

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