The Ukrainian military said Russian or separatist saboteurs blew up a warehouse storing tank ammunition at a military base in the east of the country early on Thursday.
The base, which contained about 138,000 tonnes of ammunition including rockets and tank ammunition, is located in the city of Balakleya about 100 km 60 miles from the frontline of Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed separatists. Rescue teams were helping residents nearby villages in the eastern Kharkiv region, the military said, and up to 20,000 were evacuated after the suspected drone attack.
kraine’s chief military prosecutor Anatoly Matios said ‘According to preliminary data, as a result of sabotage, last night at 2.46am, fire and explosions caused the detonation of ammunition at several sites storing rockets and artillery weapons.’ Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said at a briefing that the fire had likely been staged by Russian or separatist saboteurs who probably used a drone. Poltorak said there was no immediate word on casualties.
The separatist authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk have rejected Poltorak’s accusations, arguing in statements carried by the Interfax news agency that the blaze was likely rooted in corruption and incompetence among the Ukrainian military. There was a fire at the same arsenal in 2015 but the military managed to quickly put it out before munitions started detonating.
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