Security concerns after 500 pounds of still-missing explosives stolen from federal bunker

Saturday, May 11, 2013
By Paul Martin

By Barnini Chakraborty
May 10, 2013

Around the same time the nation was transfixed on the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers last month, thieves on the other side of the country pulled off a little-noticed heist — swiping 559 pounds of explosives from a federal storage facility in Montana.

As of Friday, not one ounce of it has been found.

The incident, federal officials believe, was not terrorism-related. But it’s the latest to raise security concerns in an age when authorities are warning about the desire of violence-bent terrorists to inflict mass casualties with bombs.

Rep. Steve Daines, Montana’s only congressman, told he’s “deeply concerned” about the theft in his state and will be “closely monitoring” the investigation.

The explosives were stolen from a locked U.S. Forest Service bunker near Billings. Thieves took off with various emulsion-type explosives, cast boosters and detonating cord.

Federal officials weren’t able to point to why the explosives were taken and have downplayed what could happen if they fall into the wrong hands. Some in the area — who did not want to be named publicly — believe the facility might have been looted by local miners or by private forestry-related companies that want to bypass buying the explosives legally.

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