Lebanese army seizes over 28 tons of ammonium nitrate

Lebanon’s army said that security forces raided a fuel station in the town of Arsal near the Syrian border and seized ammonium nitrate, stored in sacks, that had a nitrogen content of 26 percent.

Razor wire is pictured in front of the site of the 2020 Beirut port explosion, Lebanon September 29, 2021. (Reuters)

The Lebanese army has said that it had seized more than 28 tons of ammonium nitrate in the eastern town of Arsal near the Syrian border.

“After receiving information on the presence of ammonium nitrate in the town of Arsal, an army force and patrol from the Intelligence Directorate raided a fuel station in the town on October 4,” the army said in a statement on Tuesday.

The army said the ammonium nitrate was stored in sacks and had a nitrogen content of 26 percent.

Investigation under way

Three people, one of whom is Lebanese and two Syrians, were taken into custody during the raid and an investigation has been launched.

On September 18, Lebanese Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi announced that security forces had seized a truck carrying 20 tons of ammonium nitrate in the Bekaa Valley region.

On August 4, 2020, the ignition of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate at Beirut port caused an explosion that killed more than 217 people and injured more than 7,000 others as well as causing billions of dollars in property losses.

Challenges to newly formed government

In September, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Aoun have signed a decree forming a new government in the presence of parliament speaker Nabih Berri.

Lebanon has been without a fully empowered government since the catastrophic August 4, 2020 explosion at Beirut port, which forced the resignation of then PM Hassan Diab’s government.

Lebanon can no longer provide electricity to its citizens for more than a few hours a day, nor can it afford to buy the fuel needed to power generators.

Very few of the international community’s demands for a broad programme of reforms have yet been met, hampering the disbursement of foreign assistance.

Further stalling the bankrupt state’s recapitalisation has been the government’s failure to engage the International Monetary Fund and discuss a fully-fledged rescue plan.

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