“Devil’s Mother” explosive used by terrorists caused Groningen apartment blast

A May 1 explosion in an apartment in Groningen was caused by triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, a primary explosive used both by burglars who attempted to blow open ATMs, and also by terrorists in several attacks, prosecutors said on Monday. The two residents of the apartment were arrested shortly after the explosion, and a 27-year-old Groningen man was taken into custody days later, but prosecutors stated Monday that one of the three released by the magistrate overseeing the case.

TATP is colloquially known as “The Devil’s Mother,” and is considered a relatively easy explosive to produce due to the availability of the chemicals involved in manufacturing it. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) confirmed that they suspect the three of making TATP either on behalf of those attempting the cash machine burglaries, or with the intent of stealing money from the machines themselves. The chemical explosive can be easily detonated several ways, including by heat, electricity, or a sudden disturbance.

Two people were injured in the blast on Wibenaheerd in the Beijum-Oost neighborhood at about 7:30 p.m. on May 1, which forced authorities to evacuate several homes in the complex. About fifty people were at least temporarily displaced as a result of the explosion.

Initially, investigators thought that a faulty natural gas connection was the cause of the incident which blew out the first-floor apartment’s facade. However, officers returned to the scene the following day after receiving a tip that something was amiss.

“An explosive substance was in fact found in the home,” police said at the time. The neighborhood was immediately evacuated that Saturday for the second day in a row once officers found the unstable chemical.

While the two residents were kept in custody, a third suspect was arrested four days later. The three were kept isolated from all personal contact, and were only allowed time to meet with their legal representation. 

The chemical TATP was also used in the explosive bomb belts used during the assault on Paris in November 2015, the Brussels bombings in March 2016, the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017, and multiple incidents in Sri Lanka last April, the Telegraaf reported.

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