BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (AP) — Blasts rocked the capital of the Republic of Congo Sunday morning after a weapons depot caught fire, officials said. The explosions shook houses in Brazzaville and echoed across the Congo River to the capital of the neighboring country.
Defense minister Charles Zacharie Boawo appeared on national television Sunday to urge calm in Brazzaville and in the neighboring capital of Kinshasa.
"The explosions that you have heard don't mean there is a war or a coup d'etat," he said. "Nor does it mean there was a mutiny. It is an incident caused by a fire at the munitions depot. ... At this very moment our experts are there trying to extinguish this fire so this situation does not recur."
Witnesses said the explosions came from the north of the city and that the impact of the blasts threw open doors of houses in the city center. The explosions also prompted some residents of the northern part of the city to flee south. Phone networks were quickly overloaded by calls.
The blasts were also heard in Kinshasa, the capital of neighboring Congo. Government spokesman Lambert Mende said the blasts blew out some windows in the center of town, but that there were no reported deaths and that the situation had returned to normal after the blasts.
The Republic of Congo is often overshadowed by its much larger neighbor, Congo.
Associated Press writer Saleh Mwanamilongo contributed to this report from Kinshasa, Congo.