Greece captures ship of explosives bound for Sudan

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

ATHENS Greek officials said a ship captured in the Ionian Sea over the weekend was packed with 680 tons of explosives that could have been ordered by Al Qaida agents. They said the ship, which also contained mostly 8,000 detonators, was headed for Sudan.

Officials said they were examining the prospect that Islamic insurgency groups, such as Al Qaida, ordered the explosives. They said the end-user of the explosives was Integrated Chemicals and Development, the address of which is a post office box in Khartoum.

Greek Merchant Marines Minister Georges Anomeritis told a news conference on Monday that the ship, Baltic Sky, sailed from Albania on April 27 to Tunisia. In the Tunisian port of Gabes, the explosives, mostly TNT, and detonators were loaded. The Baltic Sky then sailed to Istanbul for food, fuel and a change of crew.

"We are sure that the boat was loaded in Tunisia and was heading for Khartoum," Anomeritis said. "As no one knows where the explosives were going, no one knows what they were going to be used for."

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Those who believe that an unplanned, random "Big Bang" explosion of unknown matter caused the formation of the numberless bodies of the cosmos should be able to answer the following questions: Read on . . .

"This is the biggest quantity of explosives ever seized in the world from a boat sailing illegally," the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry said in a statement.

Later, the official Egyptian news agency, Mena, reported that it had located Integrated Chemicals and Development. Mena quoted the company's director, Issam Bakri Khalifa, as saying that the cargo of explosives obtained approval from authorities in Sudan and Tunisia and was meant for road construction.

Greek officials said Athens has been in contact with several countries, including Russia, in an attempt to identify the explosives. They said Russia suspects that the explosives were of a similar type used in the war against Moscow by Chechen separatists.

"Someone could think that it would have some connection with terrorist groups," Anomeritis said. "Who knows?"

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