The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) have bust a syndicate of 13 foreigners allegedly engaged in the manufacture of explosives in Tarkwa in the Western Region.
Over 20,000 pieces of illegal explosives were seized from the suspects, made up of eight Chinese, three Togolese, an Ivorian and a Nigerian.
The explosives, which were seized on the premises of Mohammed Brothers Company Limited and Dakete Mines in Tarkwa, included about 10,000 kg of ammonium nitrate and about 20,000 explosive charges in the form of dynamite which had been prepared from ammonium nitrate.
“Most of the ammonium nitrate was concealed in flour and rice sacks,” the GAF said in a statement yesterday.
According to the statement, the operation, led by personnel of the 2nd Infantry Battalion, “was premised on detailed intelligence aimed at clamping down on the manufacture, sale and use of illegal dynamite in parts of the country, especially mining areas”.
Further checks by the Daily Graphic indicated that the suspects had been screened and handed over to the National Security in Accra fur further investigations.
Members of the community where the explosives were found were alarmed by the operations of the syndicate, especially as terrorists were threatening the northern border areas of the country.
Some who spoke with the Daily Graphic said the suspects were operating in the heart of Tarkwa, not far from a senior high school, with other social and economic activities going on in the area, saying the operations of the syndicate posed a threat to lives and properties.
They commended the GAF for their intervention, since the explosives could have caused a blast, with devastating consequences.
A military source told the Daily Graphic that Mohammed Brothers and Dakete Mines where the arrests took place were unsafe, and that in case of any explosion, the damage could be colossal.
“It is important to let the public know that ammonium nitrate mixed with diesel tends to be dangerous when there is a blast. Aside from that, exposure to and inhalation of high concentrations of ammonium nitrate dust could lead to respiratory diseases.
“The danger here is that Mohammed Brothers and Dakete Mines are located in a populated area in Tarkwa and near a school,” it said.
Sharing his views on the matter with the Daily Graphic, a source at the mining industry who pleaded anonymity said the use of explosives in the mines came with rules that were strictly followed.
“Any mine which uses explosives requires a permit from industry regulators. After that, the mine is constructed with a certified storage and a magazine before it is issued with such a licence.
“The mine in question has to indicate the specification of the explosive it requires and the quantity, after which Minerals Commission officials will carry out an inspection,” the source said.
Furthermore, it said, after the mine had acquired a licence from the Minerals Commission, the commission would continue to inspect the storage of the magazine every month.