Philippine police have intercepted a 2,200 lb. shipment of chemicals believed to be intended for bombing attacks by the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorists. The shipment was divided into 20 sacks and hidden in the hold of the MV Katrina, a ferry docked in the southern port city of Zamboanga from the nearby island of Jolo, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold, police said. Crewmen claimed the sacks contained dried fish.
Ammonium nitrate is a highly volatile chemical compound largely used in making fertilizer and is the main ingredient used by the Abu Sayyaf to produce powerful bombs, official said. Last month, 250 lbs. of ammonium nitrate were found on Jolo.
Maj. Frank Clavencillas, chief of port police, said there had been fears that the Abu Sayyaf could stage bombings on October 12, when the largely Catholic enclave of Zamboanga is to mark an annual festival. Six of the crewmen including the captain of the vessel were taken to Zamboanga City police station for questioning. The ship's cargo checker was also detained at the port police office.