Deadly fire at military ammunition depot in Chad's capital

A massive fire at a military ammunition depot in N'Djamena. [AFP]

A deadly fire erupted late Tuesday at a huge military ammunition depot in Chad's capital N'Djamena, causing weapons to fire into the air, the government and witnesses said.

Blasts from the depot in the capital's Goudji area were heard miles away, AFP journalists said, adding that projectiles turned the sky red and black as they shot into the air at regular intervals and detonated.

"The roof of our house was blown off by one of the explosions," said resident Kadidja Dakou, who lives in the Amsinene area near Goudji.

The 36-year-old and her three children took refuge in the street alongside their neighbours, for fear their houses would collapse, she told AFP by phone.

President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno said people had been killed and wounded in the blaze, without giving precise figures.

"Peace to the souls of the victims, sincere condolences to the grieving families and a speedy recovery to the wounded," Deby wrote on Facebook, promising to open an investigation into the fire.

Foreign Minister Abderaman Koulamallah, who is also the government spokesman, said on Facebook that there were "huge explosions" at the site and urged the population to keep calm.

There are multiple homes in the neighbourhood hosting the depot, which sits near the international airport and a base where French troops are stationed.

The blaze "caused explosions of ammunition of all calibres", an official with the French forces told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Chad's president officially won 61 percent of a May 6 vote that international NGOs said was neither credible nor free and which his main rival called a "masquerade".

Deby was proclaimed transitional president in April 2021 by a junta of 15 generals after his father, president Idriss Deby Itno, was shot dead by rebels following 30 years in power.