Ammonium nitrate: Innocuous fertiliser used as terror tool

New Delhi: Despite the government making efforts to control the use of ammonium nitrate, which is commonly available as a fertiliser, it continues to be the explosive material most preferred by terrorists in almost all the blasts during the last five years.

The government had planned a strong controlling regime to check misuse of ammonium nitrate, key component for manufacturing deadly explosive, but it seems that the proposal is yet to see the light of the day.

The terror attacks in Uttar Pradesh courts in November 2007 and subsequent bombings in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmadabad, Delhi and now in Pune point towards the metamorphosis of the chemical from innocuous fertiliser into a terror tool.

Ammonium nitrate is not a high-quality explosive like RDX but intelligent use of shrapnel, packing and proper fuel mix like diesel converts it into a low-cost high-impact explosive.

It produces oxygen at a very fast rate thereby creating an explosion. The basic difference between RDX and ammonium nitrate is that the former can be used alone for causing blasts whereas the latter is to be laced with some fuel for causing the explosion, a senior explosive expert said.

A timer device, which could be a simple microchip, is embedded in the entire package and can be programmed like a digital clock creating a spark at scheduled time and detonating the package.