ZAMBOANGA CITY – Patrolling soldiers have intercepted a motorboat attempting to smuggle over three dozen bags of ammonium nitrate in Basilan province, a stronghold of pro-ISIS Abu Sayyaf group in southern Philippines, the military said Friday.
It said four people were taken into custody by the soldiers and being interrogated by the military. The chemical, which is banned in the Philippines, is usually used by rebels as a key ingredient in the manufacture of homemade bombs. It did not say how many kilos were seized from the four men, but each bag of ammonium nitrate typically is 25 kilos.
The military said the chemical originated from Siasi Island off Sulu province and heading to Basilan when members of the 83rd and 84th Inshore Boat Companies spotted and intercepted the boat and arrested its skipper and passengers. It was not immediately known whether those being held by the soldiers are members of the Abu Sayyaf or other rebel group operating in Basilan.
Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said those arrested will be handed over to the police so criminal charges can be filed against them. “Sailors and marines operate in maritime areas of Western Mindanao to curb smuggling and other illegal activities that affect the security and development in Mindanao,” he said.
Just last month, police also seized half a ton of ammonium nitrate following a sea chase off Zamboanga City that led to the capture of five men. A maritime police patrol spotted a suspicious boat off Taluksangay village on February 23 and gave chase after the vessel did not stop for security inspection.
The boat was eventually apprehended and its passengers arrested after policemen discovered its cargo of 20 bags of ammonium nitrate weighing 25 kilos each and had markings that showed it was made in South Korea by Huchems Fine Chemical Corporation. (Mindanao Examiner)
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