15 killed in Turkmenistan blast: Authorities
Two servicemen and 13 civilians died in a series of blasts that rocked the outskirts of the capital of Turkmenistan last week, the official state news agency said today.Updated: Jul 12, 2011 02:56 IST
Two servicemen and 13 civilians died in a series of blasts that rocked the outskirts of the capital of Turkmenistan last week, the official state news agency said on Sunday.
The death toll was the first reported by the reclusive Central Asian state since Thursday's mystery explosions, which members of the Turkmen opposition living abroad said may have killed some 200 people.
Turkmenistan's TDH news agency said the initial blast went off at a fireworks storage facility, with the blazes then spreading to a munitions dump.
The incident in the energy rich republic, which is officially recognized as an authoritarian state by the United States, was barely mentioned by authorities since it occurred.
But the Turkmen opposition, including the Moscow based Ferghana.ru website, published photographs on the internet of what appeared to be Abadan -- a town about 20 kilometres outside the capital. Ferghana.ru showed pictures of destroyed houses and cited witnesses as saying that bodies littered the street in the initial hours after the blasts.
The authorities initially attributed that incident to a fire at a fireworks storage facility, filing an angry protest with the Russian foreign ministry for allowing its media to report on the opposition claims.
The comments released on Sunday by the official Turkmen news agency suggested an admission of much more serious damage than had been said so far.
"In place of the old Abadan -- a satellite city of the Turkmen capital -- an essentially new city will be built," TDH quoted the republic's strongman leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov as saying. Berdymukhamedov also delivered a "sharp reprimand" to his defence minister, the state agency said.