Police warn on seizure of explosives

Local | Cissy So 4 Dec 2019

Police have warned of the danger of a highly unstable explosive TATP, of which they have seized an unprecedented amount this year.

The superintendent of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau, Suryanto Chin-chiu, told the media the power of TATP is second only to military-grade explosives.

Two secondary school students were arrested last month when they took about three grams of TATP to school. Police said that less than half a gram of the explosive would be enough to blow off all fingers if it was carried unstably.

The full name of TATP is Triacetone triperoxide, which is an unstable chemical. During conveyance, an explosion may occur even if it is not detonated deliberately.

"Taking the secondary student case as an example, even though the portion was less than 0.5g, if it exploded accidentally while it was being carried by hand, it is possible to blow off the fingers. Its power is way more than firecrackers," Suryanto said.

TATP could be easily made by combining chemicals like oxides and strong acids, which can be commonly bought from hardware stores for a few hundred dollars. He also said people with chemistry knowledge could make it on their own as long as they had the raw materials and experimental tools.

"It takes only about a week to make 1kg of TATP. Law-breakers could first connect the primers and pour flammable liquid in advance, then light it up," said Suryanto.

"It could be detonated from a long distance, or even made into time bombs. Therefore, it is widely used by terrorists."

In July, some homemade high explosives, suspected to be TATP, weighing 1kg was seized in a Tsuen Wan industrial building.

There have been a couple of terrorist attacks related to TATP, including an attack in London in July 2005. Terrorists used the explosives on buses and in subways, causing 56 deaths and more than 700 people injured.

The Crimes Ordinance says it is illegal to make or have in one's possession an explosive substance, or attempt to cause an explosion.

Offenders are liable to prosecution and face 20 years' imprisonment on conviction.


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