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C-4 bomb component used in Glorietta blast - PNP chemist

October 20, 2007 10:31am
(Update 2, 11:30 a.m.) Traces of a main component of the powerful C-4 military grade plastic explosive were found at Glorietta mall in Makati City, where a bloody explosion took place on Friday afternoon, a chemist from the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory told President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during Saturday's briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

The chemist told Mrs Arroyo, Palace, military and police officials that after an analysis of chemical samples from swabbing, experts determined that residues of the C-4 component "RDX" was present in the explosion site.

RDX stands for royal demolition explosive, an ingredient in C-4, also called cyclotrimethylene-trinitramine (C3H6N6O6), which is made up of polyisobutylene, the binder, and di(2-ethylhexyl) sebacate and the plasticizer, which makes the element material malleable.

In making C-4 blocks, explosives manufacturers take RDX in powder form and mix it with water to form slurry. The binder material is then added, and dissolved in a solvent, afterwards, materials are mixed with an agitator.

After mixing, the solvent is removed through distillation. The water is also removed through drying and filtering, which results in a relatively stable, solid explosive with a consistency similar to modeling clay.

Aside from being used widely in military and industrial applications, RDX is also a major component of many plastic bonded explosives for nuclear weapons.

“We can assume those are military ordnance components. We presume those explosives could be of that origin," the PNP chemist, whose name was not disclosed, told Arroyo at the conference.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr said RDX is a controlled substance.

But the PNP chemist said they are still trying to collect more samples from the site. “At this point in time that is what we got from our laboratory," she said.

Also, the PNP said it has asked its counterparts abroad for assistance in preventing a repeat of the bloody explosion.

Police chief Director Gen. Avelino Razon Jr said he has ordered the PNP’s anti-terror group Task Force Sanlahi to be “on the lookout" for terrorism suspects. “We have this watchlist of terrorists and directed Task Force Sanlahi to be on the lookout and arrest them if they are in the area."

“We also requested different security agencies to instruct security guards to be more deliberate in the conduct of their search of bags and packages entering these places," he added.

Metro Manila police chief Dir. Geary Barias said they have also started reviewing closed-circuit TV (CCTV) footage of the area where a blast occurred Friday afternoon.

“CCTV footage is being reviewed to detect suspects in the incident. Coordination has been made with management to provide the structural design of the building," Barias said.

But he admitted the source of the explosion and the perpetrators have yet to be identified at this time. He said swabs of the area are still being analyzed.

On the other hand, he said chokepoints and checkpoints have been in place since Friday night.

Chief Supt. Silverio Alarcio Jr, PNP deputy chief for operations, said all PNP units went on heightened alert with the elite Special Action Force going on full alert. - GMANews.TV
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