Photo credit for "Africa" graphic, above: © 2005 Jennifer Lewis
MASSIVE EXPLOSIONS FROM MILITARY ARMS DEPOT IN MAPUTO
BLASTS IN MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE, CAUSE PANIC, DOZENS OF CIVILIAN DEATHS
24 March 2007
A series of blasts in the center of Maputo, capital of Mozambique, left the population shaken. The explosions occurred in a massive military arms depot located near residential areas, in the Malhazine neighborhood. The government was immediately confronted with serious security concerns, but assured the public the explosions were the result of an accidental fire.
Still, there were natural fears that the explosions could signal the first salvo of a return to the chaos of civil war, which for decades had left the country in a state of paralysis and instability. The government has insisted the inferno at the arms storage facility was ignited accidentally, probably as a result of intense heat exposure.
The explosions caused military projectiles to be strewn into the surrounding neighborhood, showering homes and buildings with explosive shells. Witnesses have been cited as saying projectiles were launched into several barrios, including Hulene, Benfica, 25 de Junho, and others. Some homes were reported damaged or destroyed.
Initial reports suggested that thirteen people were killed, but the death toll continued to mount over the first 24 hours, reaching well over 50 killed, with the count increasing seemingly by the hour. Early concerns centered not only on the blasts themselves, and who might be responsible, or whether they were accidental, but on whether there would be any accountability for government involvement or incompetence. [s]
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