BALI, Indonesia — Indonesian authorities have detained a ship carrying an unregistered cargo of nearly 30 tons of fertilizer that may have been destined for use in making illegal fishing bombs, officials said Thursday.
The ship, which was intercepted off the tourist island of Bali, left from a Malaysian port and was headed for Selayar, an island off the southern coast of Sulawesi.
Agus Setya, director of the national police’s economic crimes unit, said there have been three similar cases since April in which police suspect fertilizer was to be used to make fishing explosives.
Explosives are sometimes used to stun fish so they can be easily caught.
“We have to investigate whether or not this case has the same motive,” he said. The investigation also will look for any indications of a link to Islamic militants, he said.
The Poso area in Sulawesi has been the base for a militant network that claims allegiance to the Islamic State group. But it has been decimated this year by the killing of its leader, the capture of its No. 2 figure and the deaths of many of its fighters in shootouts with security forces.
Husni Syaiful, chief of law enforcement at the regional customs office in Bali, said the Indonesian ship’s captain and five crewmen have been arrested and will face charges of violating customs laws.
Local media reported last year that two women were killed in an explosion at a housing complex in Makassar in South Sulawesi province that police said was being used to make bombs sold to fisherman operating in the Makassar Strait.