PETN: A dangerous explosive favoured by militants

Several countries have severe restrictions on purchase of PETN which can be bought in powder form or thin plastic sheet.

Published: 14th July 2017 03:42 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th July 2017 03:42 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purpose


LUCKNOW: The PETN explosive found lying under the seat of a Samajwadi Party MLA inside the UP Assembly is one of the most dangerous plastic explosives available in the black market and preferred by militants as the colourless crystals easily surpass security checks.

The packet, which weighed around 150 g, was found close to the seat of Leader of the Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary, which is close to the podium where the Speaker sits.

"This is PETN (Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate), this is a dangerous substance," Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told a stunned House soon after it assembled for the day.

"As informed by experts, 500 gm of this explosive is enough to blow up the House," he said.

PETN is one of the most dangerous plastic explosives which is available in black market, and belongs to the same family as nitroglycerin.

It is preferred by militant groups because it cannot be easily detected owing to its colourless crystals. Majority of explosive detectors use metal detectors, but PETN can be kept hidden in a sealed container or an electrical equipment and thus can easily surpass security checks.

"The dog squad failed to detect the explosive that was found by the cleaning staff on July 12," the chief minister said.

Several countries have severe restrictions on purchase of PETN which can be bought in powder form or thin plastic sheet.

The substance is legally used by the military and in mining industries where it is used in detonators for detonating cords and mines. PETN can be mixed with other chemicals to form Semtex.

Experts say PETN does not go off on its own. The explosive needs a secondary detonating mechanism to produce heat or a shockwave, which can detonate the explosive. The substance is stable and safe to handle, but requires a primary explosive to detonate it.

PETN substance has been used in number of bombing incidents over the years.

Apart from reports of PETN explosives from all around the world, the substance is believed to have been used in the 2011 Delhi High Court blast, in which at least 17 people lost their lives.

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