According to state television, at least four powerful explosions struck a military camp in Equatorial Guinea on Sunday, causing casualties.
The TVGE channel showed wrecked and burning houses, with people being rescued from the debris, including children, and the wounded lying on a hospital floor.
It showed photographs of a thick column of black smoke emanating from the Nkoa Ntoma military camp in Bata’s economic capital, according to TVGE.
The first blast occurred in the early afternoon, and TVGE reported “casualties” in the early evening, but did not say if there were any fatalities.
“We hear the explosion and see the smoke, but we have no idea what’s going on,” Teodoro Nguema, a local resident, told AFP by phone.
The cause of the explosions is unknown, but early reports indicated they may have originated from the camp’s armoury, according to a journalist with the TV channel.
According to the writer, the camp houses elements of the army’s special forces as well as the paramilitary gendarmerie.
Bata is the largest city in the oil-and-gas-rich country, home to about 800,000 of the country’s 1.4 million people, the majority of whom live in poverty.
Malabo, the country’s capital, is located on Bioko, one of the country’s islands off the west African coast.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who is 78 years old, has ruled Equatorial Guinea for nearly 42 years.
His jet-setting uncle, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vice president in charge of defense and security, was seen inspecting the damage at the blast site on television, accompanied by his Israeli bodyguards.
Teodorin, as he is called, is fast becoming the president’s chosen heir.
In a bitter dispute over a swanky Paris property confiscated in a corruption investigation into Teodorin, the UN’s top court ruled in favor of France in December last year.
Obiang is often accused of human rights violations by members of the opposition and foreign organizations.
To become Africa’s longest-serving leader, the authoritarian leader has survived at least half a dozen assassination or coup attempts.
In December 2017, Malabo claimed to have thwarted a coup attempt, for which 130 people were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to 96 years, half of whom were sentenced in absentia.
Five French nationals were among them, as were residents of Chad, the Central African Republic, and Cameroon.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN