Guinea seizes chemicals, drugs and bomb-makers sought

Guinea’s military rulers have seized hundreds of kilos of chemicals which were either being used by drug traffickers processing cocaine or plotters trying to make home-made bombs, officials said.
The chemicals, which include ammonia, methanol and acetone, were found in two locations in the capital earlier this month and the government this week appealed for international help to ensure residents were not hurt as they tackled the situation.
Guinea is one of a string of weak countries in West Africa that has been targeted as a transit point by Latin American drug traffickers peddling cocaine to Europe. But the government said the chemicals might also be used by terrorists.
“These materials are used to make drugs and bombs in secret laboratories,” said a report by the ministry of health and public hygiene, seen by Reuters.
“This is a real danger for the country and is to be taken seriously,” it added.
A separate laboratory report, commissioned by the CNDD ruling junta and seen by Reuters, said the packaging showed the chemicals had come from neighbouring Ivory Coast and pointed to a crime against the state.
“Therefore, we propose two roads of enquiry – the al Qaeda network and drug traffickers,” the report said.
Analysts have previously warned that weak states in West Africa were vulnerable to attacks by terrorists but al Qaeda’s North Africa wing has so far limited its activities to the desert regions of countries to the north of Guinea.
Since seizing power in a December coup, the CNDD junta has launched a high profile attack on networks of drug traffickers based in Guinea, arresting senior members of the armed forces believed to be operating alongside powerful Latin American cartels.
People fleeing
The CNDD has cordoned off a one-kilometre radius around the two sites, warning residents that the chemicals were highly flammable and could paralyse or blind them.
It has also appealed to the UN for financial and technical help in removing the stockpiles.
“Dozens of families have left the area. People are scared and prefer not to take the risk,” said Aly Badara Camara, a resident of Gbeissa, where the chemicals were found.
Antonio Mazzitelli, head of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime in the region, confirmed that the chemicals could be used to make bombs but said the seizure backed up rumours that there was a cocaine-processing lab in the region.
“Some of the chemicals are used for processing coca base into cocaine. This is an indication that processing might be taking place in West Africa,” he told Reuters.
“In Latin America, the chemicals are under strict control so they cost more and it is more difficult to get hold of them. They not as well controlled in West Africa,” he added.
In nearby Ivory Coast, toxic substances dumped at sites around the major city of Abidjan in 2006 poisoned thousands of people and killed 16.

Pic: Guinea Solider