Explosions Rock Republic of Congo

But defense minister says fire, not war, is to blame
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 4, 2012 7:25 AM CST
Explosions Rock Republic of Congo
A plume of smoke can be seen over Brazzaville from across the Congo River in Kinshasa, capital of neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. on March 4, 2012.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Blasts rocked the capital of the Republic of Congo this morning after a weapons depot caught fire, officials say. The explosions shook houses in Brazzaville and echoed across the Congo River to the capital of the neighboring country. Defense minister Charles Zacharie Boawo appeared on national television to urge calm in Brazzaville and in the neighboring capital of Kinshasa, saying, "The explosions that you have heard don't mean there is a war or a coup d'etat. Nor does it mean there was a mutiny."

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"It is an incident caused by a fire at the munitions depot," he continued. "At this very moment our experts are there trying to extinguish this fire so this situation does not recur." Witnesses said the explosions came from the north of the city and that the impact of the blasts threw open doors of houses in the city center. The explosions also prompted some residents of the northern part of the city to flee south. Phone networks were quickly overloaded by calls. The blasts were also heard in Kinshasa, the capital of neighboring Congo. No deaths have been reported. (Read more Democratic Republic of Congo stories.)

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