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Authorities in Lebanon have seized 20 tons of ammonium nitrate — the same chemical behind a deadly explosion last year at Beirut’s port — in the eastern Bekaa Valley, one of Hezbollah’s strongholds , state media reported on Saturday.

Lebanese authorities have seized 20 tons of ammonium nitrate — the same chemical behind a deadly explosion last year at Beirut’s port — in the eastern Bekaa Valley, one of Hezbollah’s strongholds , state media reported on Saturday.

“We must do our best to move these materials to a safer place away from exposure to heat and sun” to avoid a “catastrophe”, the NNA quoted him as saying.

The company that owns the ammonium nitrate said that the fertilizer was intended for agricultural use.

“One of our employees informed the relevant authorities that we have ammonium nitrate, so they raided the warehouses on Friday,” one of the company heads told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The name of the firm that owns the fertilizer has not been made public pending investigations.

“We have been working in the feed and fertilizer industry for 40 years,” the company official added.

When combined with fuel oils, ammonium nitrate creates a potent explosive widely used in the construction industry, but also by insurgent groups for improvised explosives.

Lebanese authorities are still investigating the circumstances in which hundreds of tons of the chemical ended up in the Beirut port for years, before the monster explosion that levelled swathes of the city.

Asharq Al-Awsat

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