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Benin: 10 soldiers injured in an explosion

Benin: 10 soldiers injured in an explosion
Beninese soldiers prepare to leave Cotonou for Mali on 18   -  
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Ten soldiers were injured on Monday in Benin in an "explosion in an ammunition bay" at an officer training school in the south of the country, the army said on Tuesday.

The explosion occurred during a "transfer of obsolete equipment", said in a press release the Beninese army which evokes a "pyrotechnic accident".

The injured soldiers were hospitalized while a technical team from the post-conflict demining and de-pollution training centre "was deployed to the site in order to secure it" , the army said.

Monday afternoon, the inhabitants of Toffo (south), a rural locality some 90 km from the capital Cotonou, were alerted by the sounds of an explosion coming from the officers' school.

"A thick and huge black smoke rose to the sky and we heard noises as if we were shooting weapons," said Aimé Dossougouin, a local resident reached by telephone by AFP.

"Our only reflex was to flee as far as possible. Many thought it was a bomb," continued the 28-year-old resident.

“The Chief of General Staff of the Beninese Armed Forces (…) would like to reassure the local populations that the situation is under control”, indicated the army, which invited the inhabitants “not to handle the debris from (the explosion) and to get closer to its personnel in the event of the discovery of fragments of explosives".

Benin, like Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, faces the growing threat of fighters from the Islamic State (IS) group and Al-Qaeda, based in Niger and Burkina Faso, and which are now multiplying attacks on its territory.

Beninese forces claimed last month to have recorded around 20 incursions since 2021. The Beninese government has indicated that it plans to recruit 5,000 men to help its security forces in particular to protect the northern borders.

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