Afghanistan rocket attack kills at least 19

 

At least 19 Afghan soldiers and civilians were killed when an ammunition dump blew up today, unleashing a chain of explosions that spread damage across a wide area.

A further 15 soldiers who were on duty at the depot on the outskirts of the town of Spin Boldak in southern Afghanistan were missing, a senior local official said.

The dead comprised 12 civilians, among them four women and three children, and seven soldiers.

Afghan officials said the ammunition depot had been set up at a former Muslim religious seminary during operations against fugitive Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in southern Afghanistan.

The militants are being hunted by US-led coalition forces on both sides of the border.

The United Nations World Food Program said what it called a projectile set off in the blast hit a warehouse it uses to store food for distribution to hungry Afghans.

"Two huge storage tents caught fire and some edible oil supplies have been damaged. Between 600 and 800 tonnes of wheat supplies were saved," WFP spokesman Mr Khaled Mansour said.

In Kabul, international peacekeepers said they had cleared away two cans loaded with wires and explosives and a rocket that Afghan police had found under a car in the capital.