Authorities have warned that there has been a significant increase in the smuggling of grenades and other explosives, including dynamite, into Britain, raising fears that such deadly weaponry could be used in terror attacks by hardline Islamist extremists.
The bulk of the explosives are being brought into the UK from former Yugoslavia, with criminal enterprises there exporting arms to the rest of Europe on an industrial scale.
Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has seized large hauls of grenades in recent operations in south England and parts of Scotland, warning that the weapons are typically smuggled via lorries or ferries across the English Channel.
"There are different laws in the Western Balkans and more ready availability of weaponry. Organized crime groups from that area have significant links into the UK hence our targeting. Each case has a different reason for use — in one case it was a specific threat; in others the reason for purchase is less clear,” NCA Director Lynne Owens told The Independent on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Chris Farrimond, the agency’s deputy director of investigations, said the explosives were rarely being used, stating that only four grenades were detonated in the UK between 2013 and 2017.
However, if the weapons fall into the hands of terrorists, they could cause devastating damage in busy public areas, including buses, trains and shopping centers, so tackling the flow of weapons into the UK unsurprisingly remains a top priority for the NCA.