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Poland says no 'external force' behind fatal arms plant explosion

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 10, 2024 11:41 PM 2 min read
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk at a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, on May 20, 2024. (Photo by Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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There was no "external force" behind an explosion and fire at a Polish arms plant that killed one person, Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on June 10, in comments reported by Wirtualna Polska.

An explosion in the Mesko arms factory in the southeastern Polish city of Skarzysko-Kamienna earlier in the day started a fire and killed a 59-year-old worker, RMF 24 reported.

Another employee was hospitalized after inhaling smoke, but his life is not in danger, local authorities said.

In an apparent reference to increased cases of Russian sabotage across Europe, Tusk said his government was "very vigilant and sensitive" to such cases for "obvious reasons."

"For now, there is no reason to believe that any external force was behind this dramatic event," he added.

U.S. and allied intelligence officials have noted a growing number of low-level sabotage operations in Europe that seem to be a part of Russia's effort to undermine assistance for Ukraine, the New York Times (NYT) reported on May 26.

The news comes days after Poland arrested at least 12 residents over alleged spying and planning sabotage on behalf of Russia on Polish soil.

These operations, spearheaded by the Russian military intelligence agency (GRU), are mostly arsons or attempted arsons targeting non-military targets and aimed at creating the impression of a domestic opposition against aiding Kyiv, the outlet wrote.

The June 10 incident is not the first such tragic case to have taken place at the Mesko factory. In September 2021, an explosion killed a 41-year-old woman.

In yet another incident, a 48-year-old woman was seriously injured during a blast in April 2021, later dying due to her injuries.

Mesko, owned by state-run Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa SA, manufactures various defense products, including Grom and Piorun man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), Spike-LR anti-tank missiles, and small arms ammunition.

Poland has provided extensive military support to Ukraine, leading to local arms factories significantly increasing production.

Mesko signed a contract in 2022 for the supply of ammunition of various calibers to Ukraine.

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