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Explosions in southern Afghanistan damage nearby UN installations

Explosions in southern Afghanistan damage nearby UN installations

United Nations offices in southern Afghanistan suffered damages and one UN staff member was injured after an ammunition dump exploded last night and this morning in Kandahar.

The first blast in Spin Boldak occurred just before midnight, while subsequent explosions were heard until 11 a.m. today, according to UN officials.

The explosions, which took place at military barracks and an ammunition depot, caused "extensive" damage to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office some 70 metres away. "One of UNHCR's drivers was injured and has been taken to Kandahar hospital about three hours away for treatment," Jennifer Clark, a spokesperson for the agency, said in Geneva.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), which also has premises in the area, reported that one of its workers was slightly injured. Two of the agency's storage tents as well as three containers used as offices were destroyed, while the gate of WFP's premises was blown up. All food supplies, however, seemed to be intact.

The risk posed by the blasts persists. "As a result of the explosions, unexploded ordnance and live ammunition are scattered in a wide area," said Fred Eckhard, a UN spokesman in New York.

Spin Boldak, the principal crossing point for Afghan refugees returning from Pakistan's Baluchistan province, is host to five camps sheltering an estimated 32,000 internally displaced persons. While UNHCR has no reports yet of any injuries among the displaced, the agency is stressing that unexploded ordnance must be cleared from the town to ensure the safety of its citizens and returnees.

A UN team, including demining experts, has been dispatched to the site to inspect the damage.