WAR.WIRE
Ukraine military officials fired over arms depot blasts
KIEV (AFP) Jun 03, 2004
Ukranian President Leonid Kuchma Thursday fired his armed forces chief of staff and chief infantry commander over a series of devastating explosions at a weapons depot that killed five people in early May.

In addition to the firing of Oleksandr Zatynayko and Petro Shulyak, Kuchma also reprimanded his Defense Minister Evhen Marchuk responsible for the incident, the president's press service said.

A government committee had recommended the measures last week.

The explosions occurred on May 6 after a fire erupted at a military base near the southeastern town of Melitopol.

Six Ukrainian soldiers, including the commander of the military base, have been charged over the explosions, which lasted nearly a week and forced 7,000 people to flee their homes.

Two are accused of starting the fire that triggered the blasts.

The equivalent of 900 wagon-loads of ammunition were destroyed by the flames, causing losses to the state of 2.25 billion hryvnas (353 million euros, 422 million dollars).

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