KABUL, Aug 9: A massive explosion at a construction agency’s warehouse in eastern Afghanistan killed up to 26 people and wounded around 80 on Friday.

The blast tore through the warehouse near Jalalabad, at 12:30pm (2pm PST). An official said the explosion appeared to be the work of a suicide car-bomber.

“It looks like a suicide car bomb in the warehouse” of the Afghan Construction and Logistics Unit, the official said.

A government spokesman, however, said: “It could be an act of sabotage, but it appears possible that explosive material was being stored in the warehouse.”

“The exact cause of the explosion is still unknown ... At this point it’s too early to say.”

The warehouse belonged to the non-government Afghan Construction and Logistics Unit (ACLU) and was located around 400 metres from the Darunta dam, which is some eight kilometres west of Jalalabad.

“It looks like a suicide car bomb in the warehouse,” Ali said, adding that some 50 houses had also been damaged by the force of the blast.

“It appeared the goal was to destroy the electricity dam.”

After visiting the site, Ali, who said most of the victims were local residents, was “100 percent sure it was not an accident”.

“I have seen wires and the remnants of detonators, that’s why I think it was a bomb in a car.

“We had had reports that there would be a big explosion in this area. We had tightened security but we did not think it would happen inside this warehouse as it is a reconstruction agency.”

But Mohammad Asif Qaimzada, the deputy governor of Nangarhar province, of which Jalalabad is the capital, ruled out sabotage as the cause, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) said.

“There is no possibility of any act of terrorism. It was caused by explosive material in the store (of ACLU) which it uses in its road construction projects,” he told the private news agency.

ACLU’s project manager in Kabul, who is named Engineer Mohammad Arouf, said local staff had been engaged in a scheme to build a bridge in the area.

He said 16 Afghans were working in ACLU’s offices in Jalalabad.

Rescue workers were pulling bodies from the rubble and transporting the injured to two local hospitals, including the state-run Sehat-i-Aama Hospital, the AIP said.—AFP

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