Thieves have taken 40 grenades, 200 detonators and an unspecified quantity of military-grade explosives from an army depot in Southern France, raising the possibility that the materiel may fall into the hands of terrorists.
French radio reports the thieves were able to cut through the chain link perimeter fence at the army depot overnight on Sunday, ransacking nine buildings before leaving with their deadly haul. The French army, now on high alert for terrorist attack and mounting patrols at synagogues, railway stations, and tourist attractions every day to forestall attack will have serious questions to answer over how the theft was allowed to take place.
It has transpired the base, which stored equipment to supply French military action abroad, had no security and no CCTV – so the thieves were able to roam the 250-acre, 12-building site at leisure and without interruption. It is possible the known haul, which presently stands at 40 grenades, 200 detonators, and a quantity of plastic explosives may grow, as the French army have not yet finished taking a complete inventory of the facility.
The French government have now said they will be reviewing the security at all army bases to ensure they are ‘adequate’.
Should the materiel fall into the wrong hands, they could provide a significant boost to a terrorist arsenal in Europe. Recent attacks have relied mainly on the relatively easy availability of black-market assault rifles and home made explosives. The rifles are imported to countries like France, Belgium, and Sweden from Eastern Europe and beyond, and in some cases such as in Denmark are stolen from army supply depots. The assault weapons are especially deadly in disarmed European nations as law abiding citizens are unable to resist gunmen.
Follow Oliver Lane on Twitter: Follow @Oliver_Lane or e-mail to: email@example.com