AZF (French initialism for AZote Fertilisant, i.e. nitrogen fertiliser) was the name of a chemical factory in Toulouse, France, which exploded on 21 September 2001. The blast was equivalent to 20-40 tons of TNT, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, and was heard 80 km away (50 miles). The incident resulted in 29 deaths and left 2,500 wounded. Damages paid by insurance exceed 1.5 billion euros.
Although authorities initially treated the incident as an accident, the then Environment Minister speculated that the explosion may have been "a terrorist attack" in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The body of a worker known to harbor Islamic fundamentalist sympathies was found in the blast and investigated, although official investigation found the blast to be accidental. In Spring 2004, a terrorist group adopted the same name and threatened the French government with bombings.
AZF is a terrorist group based in France. The first record of the group was in Spring 2004. At this time the group is believed to have taken its name from the explosion of the AZF chemical factory in Toulouse 1 in 2001.
The group has attempted to extort money from the French government, by threatening to place explosives along the nation's rail lines. The French government tried to pay them twice, but the first time the helicopter couldn't find the transfer point and on the second occasion couldn't take off because of fog. The French government placed ads in the newspaper Libération to contact the terrorists. 2
Once, to demonstrate their power, they led the French railway workers to a bomb, who neutralized it. A week or so later another bomb was found on the TGV train tracks, but it wasn't live and wasn't the same as the one found earlier 3. It is not sure if this was the work of AZF.
In March 2004, a letter stated that they were temporarily stopping their operations due to logistical problems. It is still unclear whether this letter was from the real AZF.4
The authors were not identified and their motivations are still unclear. The most probable hypothesis is the money. They probably stopped their activity because of the train bombings in Madrid on 11 March 2004.
AZF may refer to:
- AZF (factory) (French initialism for AZote Fertilisant, i.e. nitrogen fertiliser)
- AZF (terrorist group) believed to have taken its name from an explosion at the AZf factory in Toulouse
- Azoospermia factor