Police in Mondolkiri province arrested seven men Thursday for transporting what was originally suspected to be more than 6.5 tons of TNT, but later determined to be a powder used for purifying gold, officials said.
Koh Nhek district police stopped two trucks in Sre Huy commune early Thursday morning after an informant told them that the vehicles were transporting explosive material, according to district police chief Khan Pinh.
“We arrested them at about 3:45 a.m. while they were traveling from Sen Monorom City to Rovieng district in Preah Vihear,” he said. “We arrested seven people with two trucks with 6 tons and 600 kg of explosive.”
Among those apprehended, Mr. Pinh said, was a Chinese man named Xiao Fe, 31, who claimed to be a manager at the trucking company transporting the material, as well as a Cambodian driver, Tong Tav, 35, and a translator, Seng Hong, 27.
He said he could not recall the names of the other men.
According to Mr. Pinh, the men said the material was for blasting rocks, but that they did not have a license to transport it.
Provincial police chief Nhem Vanny said, however, that experts later inspected the cargo and determined that the material was used for purifying gold, and was not explosive.
“We reported to the provincial prosecutor, asking what to do with them because they did not have a permission letter,” he said. “We still do not know where they were taking [the powder] because it was hard to understand [the manager].”