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Explosion in Afghan City Most Likely an Accident - 2002-08-10

Afghan authorities have virtually ruled out sabotage or terrorism as the cause of an explosion that killed 26 and wounded at least 90 people near the eastern city of Jalalabad.

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah told a Kabul news conference late Saturday the explosion was probably an accident. "So far, the results of the investigations, which have been carried out by the local authorities, as well as people, who were sent from here, shows that it has been an accident," Mr. Abdullah said.

The blast Friday ripped through the Afghan Construction and Logistics Unit, a company that builds roads and bridges. Besides the toll in deaths and injuries, scores of houses were flattened and a nearby hydroelectric plant was damaged.

Mr. Abdullah said a large stockpile of explosives was kept at the company. He said investigators are looking at whether the explosives had been properly stored and maintained.

Local military authorities had at first said they suspected terrorism or sabotage, but that possibility now looks remote.