Explosives used in London bombings ‘originated in the Balkans’
By Sue O’Reilly
THE BALKANS were last night being named as the possible source of the explosive material used in the London bombings.
French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told the emergency meeting of EU justice ministers in Brussels that there was strong suspicion the explosives used in the bombings came from the Balkans or Eastern Europe, where it is possible to buy the material on the black market after the Balkan wars.
However, British Home Secretary Charles Clarke said he was bewildered by the comments.
Determining the origin of the explosives is vital and investigators believe one man assembled all four devices.
Initial forensic investigations suggest each device used in the attack had less than 10 pounds (4.5kg) of explosive, a quantity small enough to have been hidden in a rucksack.
Traces of military plastic explosive, more deadly and efficient than commercial varieties, are understood to have been found in the debris of the wrecked Underground carriages and the bus.
Scotland Yard has asked its counterparts around Europe to check stockpiles at military bases and building sites for missing explosives.
Military explosive is hard to detect even by trained sniffer dogs, easy to hide, and stable if smuggled across a European border and then into Britain in a container.
Superintendent Christophe Chaboud, head of the French security service’s Anti-terrorist Co-ordination Unit, said: “The use of military explosives is very worrying. We are more used to seeing home-made explosives made from chemicals. How did they procure them?
Either they were supplied by the underground market, for example from the Balkans, or they benefited from accomplices who removed explosives from a military base.”
After intensive efforts, availability of Semtex used extensively by the Provisional IRA, has dried up.
However, there are a number of alternatives, notably C4, which comes in sticks and can be moulded into a shape suitable for a bomb.
C4 is a high-quality plastic explosive that has been used by al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists in other attacks.
The explosive is manufactured mainly in the US but there is evidence that military explosives have been bought by terrorist groups from sources in Croatia and elsewhere in the Balkans.
Islamic militants are reported to have obtained military explosives from Bosnia in recent years.