, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12 – The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) says it has thwarted plans to smuggle into the country dangerous ingredients that could be used to make explosives.
KRA Head of Marketing and Communication Kennedy Onyonyi said officers at the Namanga border on Tuesday confiscated 20 bags containing sodium benzoate and another 20 with potassium nitrate crystalline when they raided a go-down.
Potassium nitrate is used in the manufacture of fireworks, matches, gunpowder and agricultural fertilizer among others.
“It is a banned substance in some countries due to its use by terrorists as an ingredient in the manufacture of explosives and rockets,” said Onyonyi.
“A finely dispersed powder of sodium benzoate can form explosive mixture with air. Both can be used in mining and quarrying operations and civil engineering blasts.”
He said the raid at various places in the small Namanga town ended at the go-down on the Kenyan side of the border “after suspicious people attempted to bribe the officers to allow the consignment into the country using public transport.”
“Two people approached the officer and asked him not to substantiate the nature of goods they wanted to smuggle in,” Onyonyi said in a statement on Thursday.
In turn the officer reported the incident to the KRA officers and on learning that the suspects took off.
“Namanga being a small town, KRA officers decided to raid all the possible places to establish what the two suspects wanted to smuggle in upon which they stumbled on the consignment,” he added.
He said KRA has launched investigations to establish the motive of the parties involved in the importation of the substance and for what purpose, “we have commenced investigations on the purpose of importation, origin and consignee. The owners of the consignment have since gone underground.”
Two weeks ago, two Iranian men were charged with being in possession of dangerous explosives after 15 kilograms of RDX explosives was recovered in Mombasa.
In May, a blast along Moi Avenue left one person dead and 38 others wounded.
Investigators into the Assanand House blast in Nairobi showed that it was caused by a fertilizer bomb. The Criminal Investigation Department said that the initial analysis of the debris and other material at the site showed traces of ammonium nitrate, which is known to make explosives.