Greek coastguards seize huge shipment of arms and ammo 'bound for Libya'

More than 5,000 shotguns and half a million bullets found on cargo ship from Turkey

David Trayner
Sunday 06 September 2015 16:01 BST
Some of the weapons found displayed on the dockside in Iraklion, Crete (Hellenic Coast Guard)
Some of the weapons found displayed on the dockside in Iraklion, Crete (Hellenic Coast Guard)

A huge stash of weapons and ammunition has been found hidden aboard a cargo ship understood to be bound for an area of Libya controlled by Islamic militants.

Greek authorities have seized 5,000 shotguns and half a million rounds of ammunition found aboard the Haddad 1, which was heading to the Libyan city of Misrata.

Videos released by the Hellenic Coast Guard show officers uncovering the arms, which had no accompanying documents and were concealed by furniture and gym mats.

The cagro ship Haddad 1 was reportedly registered in Bolivia and was manned by a crew from several countries

The crew of seven – which is reportedly made up of Syrians, Egyptians and Indians – have been arrested as inspectors continue to search 14 shipping containers aboard the Bolivian-registered vessel.

The ship set off from the Turkish port of Iskenderun, about 50km from the Syrian border, at the end of last month and was intercepted near Crete.

The coastguard intercepted the vessel about 20 nautical miles northeast of Crete

Greek Marine Minister Christos Zois said: "The coast guard and other officers who participated in this operation deserve warm congratulations for their success in detecting and seizing the illegal weapons on this cargo ship.

“Their co-ordination, speed, high sense of professionalism and seriousness in the preparation and combination of information led to the identification of this ship and the large quantity of arms and ammunition.

“The weapons and ammunition is still being contined and we hope that soon we will have more information on this case."

It was not immediately clear who the cargo was being shipped to.

The port of Misrata is controlled by Libya Dawn, an Islamist umbrella group that seized control of the capital, Tripoli, last year, ousting the internationally-recognised government.

Greek media reportedly suggested that an offshoot of Islamic State, based in the nearby city of Sirte, was to be the final recipient.

But The Turkish government claimed the weapons were destined for the Sudanese police force and were fully documented.

Foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic told Reuters: "If investigations by the Greek authorities show that the consignment is going to receivers other than those stated in the documentation, and if that is shared with us, naturally measures could be taken."

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