Four men were arrested in Phnom Penh on Saturday with an explosive substance that initially was thought to be uranium, a top Interior Ministry official confirmed Tuesday.
Mao Chandara, the chief of staff at the Interior Ministry, said four ethnic Vietnamese suspects confessed they intended to sell the 2 kg of unidentified substance for $60,000.
He said a sample was sent to the Cambodian Mine Action Center for analysis. The substance was packed in bottles labeled “uranium.”
“We assume that the substance is not uranium,” Mao Chandara said. “A sample was sent to CMAC for testing and they said it is highly explosive. It can be easily detonated and a small amount could destroy a large building. When it is put in water it can ignite.”
According to Mao Chandara, a similar explosive was smuggled into Cambodia in the 1980s but it could not be identified because the country lacked experts in the field.
“We do not know [the smugglers] motivation for brining this material into Cambodia, but according to their confession they hoped to sell it here. We are looking into the matter,” he said.