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Tuesday, Dec 18, 2001

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Militants used grenades of Austrian origin?
By Pranab Dhal Samanta

NEW DELHI, DEC. 17. Investigations have revealed that the grenades used by militants, who attacked the Parliament House here on December 13, bore the markings of an Austrian explosives manufacturer, Arges.

While the marking was clearly inscribed on the grenades, officials were unable to ascertain the country of origin so far due to the absence of a proper code. This had baffled investigators as, according to the Geneva Convention, a code indicating the country of origin is mandatory.

However, investigations have now shown that the marking Arges is an acronym for Armaturen Gesselschaft, an Austrian explosives manufacturer and supplier.

As per the information available on the website about the company, Arges claims itself to be a ``recognised manufacturer and supplier of NATO-qualified high explosives, training, and pyrotechnic hand grenades''.

Further, it is learnt that the grenades recovered from the militants had a ``smooth surface'', which is termed as an ``offensive version'' in the company's website. This, according to sources, meant that on exploding, the grenade would disintegrate into fragments of odd shapes and sharp edges causing more injury, even death.

Officials have expressed concern over this revelation as there were no instances of Austrian grenades found in the past. It is understood that while it was a general practice among militants to use smooth-surfaced grenades, there had been no information of these grenades originating from a NATO country.

This apart, experts, investigating the arms and ammunition carried by the militants, said the pistols were of 7.62 mm calibre. They had a ``star'' marking indicating that these were of Chinese origin. They also had a ``green sticker'' on them which, sources said, was a common label on weapons used by terrorists belonging to `jehadi' outfits.

On the explosives carried by the militants, sources said that the terrorists were also carrying one kg RDX along with ammonium nitrate, sulphur and aluminum powder. The RDX is said to have been carried to provide an ``incendiary'' effect to the explosions they had planned.

Experts dealing with the case said the dependence on improvised explosive devices based on locally-available chemicals showed that militants were now weary of transporting large quantities of RDX.

An official on the condition of anonymity said: ``It is quite risky to bring in RDX these days. Among the chemicals found with these terrorists, barring sulphur, the rest should be easily available in the market.''

Meanwhile, efforts have begun to once again verify the country of origin of the grenades and other weapons found with the militants. Also, a detailed laboratory report on the explosives was awaited.

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