Devastating Nighttime Explosion at Chad’s Largest Ammunition Depot Leaves Casualties and Chaos in N’Djamena

N’Djamena, Chad – A significant explosion rocked the capital of Chad late last night at a major military weapons storage facility, causing casualties and sparking widespread fears among residents. The blast originated from the Goudji arsenal, close to N’Djamena’s airport and several key military installations, and President Mahamat Deby Itno confirmed that the incident led to fatalities and injuries, though specific numbers remain undetermined.

Initial reports from local observers reveal that the explosion was heard around 11 p.m., followed by multiple secondary blasts and a visible massive fire. The site, known informally as the “powder keg,” is crucial to the Chadian military, housing a substantial cache of heavy weaponry and ammunition. It is strategically positioned near the international Hassan Djamous airport and Adji Kosseï military base, which hosts the French military contingent.

According to an eyewitness with ties to the church, the powerful first explosion was succeeded by less intense ones that continued intermittently for about two hours. Debris from the explosion, including howitzers and unexploded artillery shells, was scattered across adjacent neighborhoods, raising immediate dangers to civilian safety. Local authorities have cautioned residents against approaching or handling the potentially live munitions.

This tragic occurrence comes at a politically sensitive time for Chad. President Itno, recently re-elected in May, is still grappling with the repercussions of the assassination of opposition leader Yaya Dillo earlier in the year. The government has also been navigating a complex international landscape, given its military collaborations with both Western nations and a recent shift towards closer relations with Russia.

Simultaneously, Chad’s administration faces accusations of supporting the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces in their ongoing conflict with the Sudanese regular army across the border in Khartoum, adding another layer of regional instability.

As the community reels from the shock and immediate aftermath of the explosion, the cause remains officially unidentified, though speculation points to an accidental detonation similar to past incidents at ammunition depots. Emergency responders are currently on the scene, and recovery efforts are underway as the government prepares to conduct a thorough investigation.

The incident underscores the inherent risks of managing large stockpiles of military armaments, particularly in areas close to civilian populations. It also highlights the broader security challenges facing Chad, a nation pivotal in regional counter-terrorism efforts but troubled by internal and cross-border conflicts.

President Itno extended his condolences to the victims’ families and wished a swift recovery for the injured through a statement on social media, emphasizing the national tragedy’s gravity. As investigations proceed, the safety of unexploded ordnance and the structural integrity of the remaining arsenal are paramount to preventing further harm.

The international community, closely monitoring the situation, awaits further updates. Local and international support will be crucial in aiding the affected families and restoring safety and security to the area impacted by this devastating event.