September 6, 2012 / 5:55 AM / 7 years ago

Blast at Turkish ammunition dump kills 25 soldiers

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - An explosion at an ammunition store in western Turkey during a routine inventory check has killed 25 soldiers and wounded four, government officials said on Thursday.

The blast, which happened late on Wednesday in the western city of Afyon, occurred as soldiers were moving stocks of hand grenades, Forestry Minister Veysel Eroglu, who visited the scene, told reporters.

The military said the cause of the blast was not immediately known but both Eroglu and Afyon Governor Irfan Balkanlioglu said it was accidental and ruled out sabotage.

In recent weeks, the Turkish military has been engaged in some of the heaviest fighting for years with Kurdish militants in the southeastern border region with Iraq and Syria, hundreds of kilometres away on the other side of the country.

Fighter planes and attack helicopters pounded suspected Kurdish militant positions late on Wednesday in a major air-and-ground operation involving around 2,000 soldiers, security sources said.

Reporting by Seda Sezer in Istanbul and Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by John Stonestreet

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