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KIEV, March 23. /TASS/. A series of explosions at an ammunition depot in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkov region may be the result of an act of sabotage, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak told reporters on Thursday.
"Preliminary data suggest this was an act of sabotage, with different means of carrying out this sabotage being considered - from dropping a drone to a bomb attack," Poltorak explained. No casualties have been reported and the incident has not seriously damaged Ukraine’s defense capabilities, he assured.
A powerful explosion rocked a military depot near the city of Balakleya at around 3.00 a.m. local time (0100GMT) on Thursday. Later, Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoly Matios said several more blasts were recorded in other storage facilities for missiles and artillery weapons. A seven-kilometer security zone was set up around the depot, with an investigation currently underway.
Nearly 20,000 people have been evacuated from the neighboring area. Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Yuri Lavrenyuk said the Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise temporarily closed the skies covering a 40-kilometer radius from the scene of the incident.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the people’s militias in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, Andrei Marochko, said the Kiev forces may have blown up the depot to cover up the mass shortage of munitions there.
"Ukraine’s Armed Forces sold munitions and when finding out about the visit by Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister for Armaments General Igor Pavlovsky, the depot’s leadership organized an act of sabotage by blowing up the depot in order to hide the facts of mass shortage," he said, according to the LuganskInformCenter.
Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor said two criminal cases were opened into an act of sabotage and servicemen’s negligence.