The Philippine Coast Guard and police seized 450 kilos of ammonium nitrate from a ferry docked at the Zamboanga City port Monday morning.
The chemicals were discovered around 6 a.m. inside nine sacks on board the MV Katrina. Crewmen claimed the sacks were containing dried fish.
Authorities believe the chemicals will be used illegally since no documents support its shipment.
Six crewmen including the captain of the vessel have been taken to Zamboanga City police station for questioning. The ship's cargo checker was also detained at the port police office.
Another source says it was 600 kilos tied allegedly "Sayyaf-owned". See here
Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer for farmers, but lawless elements, like the Abu Sayyaf, are using it to manufacture bombs.
Echeveria said the ammonium nitrate was packed in 24 sacks of 25 kilograms each. No one among the passengers claimed ownership of the cargo.
The boat's checker was placed under investigation when it appeared that he has knowledge about the shipment of the ammonium nitrate.
Monday's discovery came less than a month after military forces recovered 10 sacks of ammonium nitrate in Patikul, Sulu.
The chemicals were recovered by military troops pursuing the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in the area.
The boat was held just minutes after it arrived in Zamboanga from Jolo, where security forces are battling members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.
Aside from the cargo inspector, four policemen assigned in Jolo were held for questioning in connection with the illegal cargo, said Major Frank Clavecillas, commander of the port police in Zamboanga City.
"This is definitely intended for terrorism; a ton of this chemical can make a lot of homemade bombs," he said, referring to the 20 sacks of ammonium nitrate his group seized.
He said the cargo inspector tried to escape by jumping from the ferry, but he was later arrested after a long chase inside the port area.
"We have intelligence report that the cargo is intended for the Abu Sayyaf group, which is planning to bomb civilian targets next month in time for the celebration of the Fiesta Pilar in Zamboanga City," he said.
"We have tightened security in Zamboanga port and is closely coordinating with law enforcement agencies to prevent the entry of explosives or bombs in Zamboanga," Clavecillas said.
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