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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 August 2007, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Huge fire at Kashmir army depot
Kashmir fire
Shells and splinters ripped through the area once the fire began
Thousands of Kashmiri villagers have been evacuated after a huge fire broke out at an Indian army ammunition depot, injuring at least 25 people.

A state of emergency has been declared and camps have been set up for the evacuees from the surrounding villages.

The area, in Anantnag district, was rocked by rapid explosions and blanketed by a massive plume of smoke.

An Indian defence ministry spokesman has ruled out sabotage or an attack by militants as the cause of the blaze.

Despite this, at least three Kashmiri separatist groups have said they started the fire.

The fire broke out in an ammunition depot at Khandroo near Achkdal.

Explosions have occurred regularly since the blaze began and the authorities say at least 13 villages have been evacuated, while people in many other villages have fled in panic.

The authorities have set up at least four relief camps for the affected people. Police have also blocked all roads leading to the ammunition depot.

About 700,000 Indian soldiers are stationed in Kashmir to combat several militant groups.

Kashmir is claimed by both Pakistan and India. They have fought two wars over Kashmir since independence.


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Explosions as fire burns at the army depot





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