The largest arms factory in Montenegro, Tara Aerospace in the northern town of Mojkovac, which is part-owned by the controversial arms dealer Heimrich Thomet, was temporarily shut down on Tuesday after the explosion the previous day which injured two workers, local media reported.
The two workers suffered life-threatening injuries in the blast and were later transported to Belgrade to be treated at the Serbian Army’s Military Medical Academy.
Montenegrin public broadcaster RTCG quoted a press release issued by the company saying that the factory was closed down after the authorities launched an investigation into how the accident in the factory’s production section happened on Monday.
“Regardless of everything that was undertaken [to ensure safety]… and the safety rules in the workplace, an accident occurred yesterday,” the company said.
The company did not reveal whether the factory was closed down on the order of the Montenegrin state or if the management decided to do it.
The explosion at the former state-owned factory was the fourth since the company was privatised in 2014.
In June 2015, a deadly blast killed Tara worker Slobodanka Coric and left seven others injured. In February 2014, Gordana Boskovic, the head of the pyrotechnics sector, was injured, and on October 24 the same year, six workers were also injured in an explosion.
Heinrich Thomet, a businessman at the centre of a scandal involving Pentagon supplies of ammunition to Afghanistan from Albania in 2008, is the majority shareholder in the Tara Aerospace manufacturing company.
Thomet was on the CIA watch-list of “arms traffickers” at the time of the 2008 deal, according to a Congressional report.
Although never charged with an offence, he was named in Albanian prosecution papers and a US Congressional report as a key broker in the Albanian affair, which later inspired the 2016 Hollywood film War Dogs.
He was again involved in providing the US government with munitions in 2017 through one of its blue-chip contractors, British defence giant Chemring.