Sunday, December 30, 2007

Explosion at Colombia Army Base in Medellin

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Explosions on Colombian army base kill 2, wound 7
The Associated Press Published: December 29, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia: A series of explosions ripped through an army base in the Colombian city of Medellin on Saturday, killing at least two people and forcing nearby residents to flee.

The first of at least six large blasts was apparently triggered by a grenade that detonated inside a weapons arsenal, according to witness accounts cited by local media. Smaller explosions continued in the afternoon.

Soldiers from a counter-guerrilla company "were handing in their weapons when a grenade went off for whatever reason," Luis Ferney Berrio, a soldier who was near the arsenal, told RCN radio. "The shock wave forced all to fall to the floor."

Medellin residents could be seen running for safety after the first blast, which sent a large fireball and plumes of black smoke skyward above the Bombona battalion in Colombia's second largest city.

He said the death toll could rise and authorities were evacuating residents in a two-block radius.

A welcome ceremony for 50 conscript soldiers was taking place at the time of the explosion, witnesses said.

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