ETA suspected of French bomb chemicals heist

25th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 23 (AFP) - More than four tonnes of a chemical that can be used to make explosives have been stolen from a factory in central France by six armed men who may belong to the Basque separatist group ETA, police said Saturday.

PARIS, April 23 (AFP) - More than four tonnes of a chemical that can be used to make explosives have been stolen from a factory in central France by six armed men who may belong to the Basque separatist group ETA, police said Saturday.  

The masked raiders gagged and tied up the sole night watchman overnight Friday and made off with around 4,000 kilos (8,800 pounds) of sodium chlorate from the fertiliser plant at Saint-Benoit near the town of Poitiers without firing a shot.  

They were said by a source close to the case to have spoken French with Spanish accents.   Sodium chlorate is commonly used as weed killer but can also be used to make matches and explosives.  

Anti-terrorist officials in Madrid said they were cooperating with French investigators   ETA used the same method to acquire large quantities of explosives in Brittany (western France) in 1999, when seven tonnes were stolen, four and a half of which were recovered, and Grenoble in the southeast where 1.6 tonnes of dynamite were taken in 2001.   

The Basque news agency Vasco Press said the men arrived at the Quadripack factory at Saint-Benoit in two vehicles around 10:00 pm (2000 GMT) Friday. The alarm was not raised until several hours later when the watchman managed to free himself.  

The last bombing using the chemical took place in Spain on February 27 at Villajoyosa near the southern city of Alicante when ETA used seven kilograms in an explosive device.  

On May 29 Spanish police found a cache of eight kilograms of the chemical hidden by ETA near Burgos in the north.  

Since a swoop in October 2004 in France picked up much of the ETA leadership French police have seized five tonnes of explosives and bomb-making material.  

Over the last 35 years ETA attacks have led to the loss of 800 lives in Spain.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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