French police search for missing explosives

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Counter-terrorism police in France are searching for 28 kg (~61 lbs) of the plastic explosive Semtex and detonators that have gone missing.

The explosives were discovered to be missing on Friday, but could have left the facility up to a week ago. They were stored at a site in Corbas, near Lyon in east-central France, which disposes of left-over munitions from the two world wars.

Both Corbas and Lyon are in the Rhône department.

The Minister of the Interior, Michèle Alliot-Marie said that the incident was due to "known failings within the site's own security." She added that the director of the site, which was originally a 19th century fort, has been "immediately suspended."

"A theft of explosives used by bomb disposal experts to destroy munitions retrieved from former battlefields has taken place on a site adjacent to the supply depot," read a statement from the ministry, officially calling it a theft.

"The presence of explosives in this site is normal, but the investigation has to find out how they could have been stolen," an unnamed source told Agence France-Presse.

Semtex was invented in 1966 and is a malleable plastic explosive. It is noted for being odorless and notorious for its involvement in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing in 1988.


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