Chad Ammunition Depot Explosion Kills 9, Injures 46

A fire that ignited at a military ammunition depot in Chad’s capital on Tuesday night resulted in nine fatalities and over 40 injuries, according to government spokesperson Abderaman Koulamallah. The explosions, which occurred in the Goudji district of N’Djamena, jolted residents awake and sent 46 individuals to hospitals with various injuries. The situation has since been brought under control, Koulamallah stated.

The explosions illuminated the night sky as thick smoke billowed into the air, prompting frantic efforts to extinguish the blaze and causing residents to evacuate their homes.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown, but President Mahamat Deby Itno has announced that an investigation will be conducted.

“Peace to the souls of the victims, sincere condolences to the bereaved families and quick recovery to the injured,” Deby said on Facebook. He subsequently visited the site of the accident and the hospitals treating the injured.

Oumar Mahamat, a local resident, described the panic that ensued, with residents fearing an escalation of the situation.

Local media reported that the explosions began just before midnight, shaking nearby buildings and propelling ammunition from the depot with explosive force.

Authorities have urged residents to avoid the area, which has been secured by security forces tasked with collecting scattered artillery shells.

Allamine Moussa, another resident, appealed to the government for urgent assistance following his and other residents’ evacuation. “Many families have recorded deaths and it’s sad,” Moussa said.

Chad, a nation of nearly 18 million people, has been grappling with political turmoil both before and after the recent elections that led to Deby Itno’s victory. He served as interim president during the period of military rule that followed his father’s death in 2021.

Cameron Hudson, an Africa expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, suggested that the explosions might not be entirely accidental, describing them as “more like a message” to the government, which has been caught in the midst of internal political tensions and regional tensions surrounding the war in neighboring Sudan.

Hudson, a former U.S. official, pointed out that recent claims about Chad’s alleged involvement in the Sudanese conflict have created a precarious situation for Deby Itno domestically. “A house divided cannot stand,” he concluded.