Trial begins in Republic of Congo depot explosion

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BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (AP) — A trial for 23 people charged in connection with a deadly explosion at an arms depot is now under way in Republic of Congo.

Nearly 300 people were killed and thousands wounded in March 2012 when the arms depot inside a military barracks caught fire, setting off grenades, mortar rounds, shells and rockets.

The suspects who appeared in court Tuesday are charged with arson, breaching state security and damaging property.

Among them are several high-ranking army officers including Col. Germain Ickonga, the head of logistics for the country's army.

The shock waves from the blasts shattered windows in a three-mile (five-kilometer) radius surrounding the barracks storing the munitions.

Residents claim witnesses at the time saw a soldier throw a cigarette inside the armory.

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