Bangkok – Twenty-five sacks of sodium nitrate – a banned chemical in Thailand that can be used to make homemade bombs – were found abandoned near the southern city of Hat Yai. Thai authorities said the chemicals were manufactured by a company in the northern Malaysian state of Penang.
Custom officials were sent to Phatong in Hat Yai after receiving a tip-off that a large quantity of a controlled chemical would be smuggled into Thailand. They found 25 sacks of sodium nitrate – weighing a total of 625kg - left on a roadside near a market on June 2. Nobody has come forward to claim ownership of the chemicals, which are worth about 50,000 baht.
According to Mr Rapob Srisuphaad, chief of Customs Office overseeing the area, the unregistered import, export and possession of sodium nitrate are illegal under Thai laws. He suggested that those who possessed the chemical might have dumped it at the roadside because they were afraid of getting arrested.
The discovery of the chemical has generated much interest since small-scale bombings have been frequently carried out by Muslim insurgents in Thailand’s troubled south. Sodium nitrate, which is used in both the making of fertilisers and explosives, is often found in both small and large-scale homemade bombs used by terrorists.
In another development, Malaysia has pledged to do all it can to help Thailand restore peace in the deep South. It gave the undertaking during a three-day meeting of the Thai-Malaysian General Border Committee, said Thai Defence Minister Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudhaya on June 3.
During the meeting, in which the insurgency problem in southern Thailand was discussed, the Malaysian authorities also pledged to help arrest separatist leaders who fled to Malaysia after causing unrest on Thai soil. Both countries also plan to step up cooperation in the exchange of intelligence on separatist activities.
* Banned explosives chemical smuggled in from Malaysia (Bangkok Post, June 4)
* Thai find: Half-tonne of bomb ingredient (The Straits Times, June 4)
* Abdullah vows full cooperation (Bangkok Post, June 4)