QUETTA: Pakistani authorities seized nearly 14 tonnes of potassium chlorate, a key ingredient in bomb-making, from a bus in the country’s violent and unstable southwest yesterday, officials said.
The haul was made when officials acting on a tip-off stopped a bus just outside the city of Quetta loaded with the volatile substance hidden under cartons of food, an official with the government paramilitary force said.
“We have seized some 13,900kg of potassium chlorate from a bus and arrested five people,” Frontier Corps Captain Johar Sarwar said. “The substance was hidden in sacks under various food items.”
Frontier Corps spokesman Murtaza Baig confirmed the haul and said the substance could be used to make bombs and was so dangerous that only a simple detonator was needed to make a deadly device.
The bus was bound for the remote town of Naushki, around 110km west of Quetta, he said, adding that bomb disposal officers were summoned to check for detonators, but they found none.
Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, is frequently hit by bomb attacks.
The oil and gas-rich area borders Iran and Afghanistan, and suffers from sectarian violence, attacks by Taliban militants and a tribal insurgency.
Baluch rebels rose up in 2004, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region’s mineral resources. Baluchistan has also been a flashpoint for violence between majority Sunnis and Shiites, who make up around 20 percent of the population.