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Asia

Explosion in Sri Lanka kills at least 25 people

At least 25 people including two Chinese nationals have been killed in a massive explosion near Batticaloa city located in Eastern Sri Lanka on Friday.

Site of the explosion

Site of the explosion

At around 12:30 p.m. on Friday three containers containing explosives parked near a police station exploded accidentally. First reports put the number of casualties at over 60. Official reports say at least 25 people were killed in the blast.

Most of the victims were policemen, who were handing out explosives to Chinese road builders who have been blasting rocks on a nearby project in the east of the island, military spokesman Ubaya Medawala said.

"No sabotage suspected"

"It's an accidental explosion. The munitions were kept at the police station for safety reasons. They exploded as police were issuing some munitions to the contractors," a military spokesman added. He also said any kind of sabotage was not suspected, as security was high at the police station and in the entire area. The cause of the explosion is still unknown.

The Chinese contractors were working for state-run China Overseas Holdings Limited, a construction company carrying out building work in the war-ravaged area, police spokesman Prishantha Jayakoddy told the media. Chinese firms are important partners in road building and in the construction of two ports in Sri Lanka.

Area once controlled by the Tamil Tigers

The police station in the small town Karadiyanaru, near the eastern town of Baticaloa, 375 Kilometers from the country’s capital Colombo was completely destroyed.

The area was previously under control of the separatist Tamil Tigers, who fought for a homeland for the Tamil ethnic group within the country. After the civil war, which lasted for two and a half decades, ended in May 2009 the Sri Lankan government embarked on a programme to rebuild the infrastructure, including roads. .

sb/dpa/afp

Editor: Grahame Lucas

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