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SLUG: 2-291526 Afghanistan/Explosion (L)









INTRO: An explosion at an ammunition depot in southern Afghanistan has killed at least ten Afghans and injured many others. Authorities fear more bodies may be buried in the rubble of destroyed buildings. V-O-A's Jim Teeple reports from our Islamabad bureau, the cause of the explosions is unclear.

TEXT: A series of explosions destroyed a large ammunition storage depot in the southern Afghan city of Spin Boldak. The town is located about 500-kilometers southwest of the capital, Kabul.

The explosions late Thursday killed Afghan soldiers guarding the depot and civilians living next to it. Witnesses say the explosions set off rockets that hit surrounding buildings and homes, leaving a wide area of devastation. Local authorities say they expect to find many bodies of victims in rubble surrounding the depot.

The explosions were big enough to rock buildings in the nearby Pakistan border town of Chaman, about 10 kilometers away. A number of other buildings in the vicinity of the depot were heavily damaged in the explosions. A spokesman for the U-N World Food Program says several local staff members were injured.

The area around Spin Boldak is a former stronghold of the Taleban and al-Qaida. No U-S forces were reported in the area at the time of the explosions. U-S forces do maintain a base in Kandahar, about 150 kilometers west of Spin Boldak.

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U-S forces have been combing the area, which borders on Pakistan's tribal areas, for al-Qaida and Taleban fighters.

Ten Pakistan soldiers were killed earlier this week on the Pakistan side of the border in a gun-battle with suspected al-Qaida fighters.

In response, Pakistan authorities have launched an operation against al-Qaida and al-Qaida sympathizers in the area. Pakistan says it has arrested more than 300 al-Qaida or Taleban fighters in the region recently, but officials

say there may be as many as one-thousand others still in the area.


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