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LIBYA: Toll in Rajmeh arms depot explosions near Benghazi may be as high as 100

March 5, 2011 |  4:19 pm

When the second explosion erupted, windows miles away shattered.

At a weapons depot east of Benghazi, the two large blasts Friday demolished buildings packed with munitions, making artillery craters 50 feet deep, littering acres of scorched land with twisted metal, bullet casings and burned tires. Between 30 and 100 people were killed.

There are conflicting reports on the cause of the explosions. Friday evening, Gen. Mohammad Hadiya, who has joined the rebels and heads the Rajmeh military base, said a plane fired two rockets 15 minutes apart at the depot. But some survivors said pro-regime militia members crept up to one of the buildings and set it on fire.

In Ajdabiya, about 90 miles south, an armory has been targeted from the air at least three times since the beginning of the revolution against Col. Moammar Kadafi on Feb. 17, each time missing more than a dozen buildings filled with armaments. Many have assumed the pilots missed on purpose.

At the Rajmeh depot, most of those killed and injured in the attack appeared to be volunteers who had come to the depot to help move weapons — including antiaircraft guns — toward the front lines to the west, where for several days rebel fighters and militia have clashed for control of cities.

The windows of Fathi Omar Fasi’s house shattered with the second explosion, and the army officer drove his parents to safety in Benghazi before returning to help with the rescue and recovery.

"We pulled people out, and we pulled out piles of flesh," he said. Kadafi "knew what there is here, he knew he would destroy the whole area. He intended to destroy all of Benghazi like a nuclear bomb."

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-- Raja Abdulrahim, Rajmeh, Libya

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