Greek coast guard seizes weapons from ship en route from Turkey to Libya

Greek coast guard seizes weapons from ship en route from Turkey to Libya

Greek coast guard seizes weapons from ship en route from Turkey to Libya

The cargo vessel Haddad 1 is docked for search and investigation at the port of Iraklio on the Greek island of Crete on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. A Greek coast guard special unit raided a Bolivian-flagged freighter on Tuesday off the southern island of Crete and found a shipment of undeclared weapons apparently headed for Libya. AP Photo

Greek authorities have seized a freighter carrying an undeclared shipment of weapons en route from Turkey to Libya. According to the customs declaration form, the ship was loaded with cement mix for Libya, 492 handgun bullets whose export license was given for the Sudanese police and 4,000 ungrooved rifles and straw nightstands exported to Lebanon, Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç told Anadolu Agency. 

A Greek coast guard patrol boat raided the vessel on Sept. 2, 20 nautical miles northeast of Crete. The freighter, with a crew of seven and which had sailed from the Turkish port of İskenderun, was escorted to Heraklion port on the island. The United Nations has imposed an embargo on weapons shipments to Libya, Reuters reported.  “The ship’s crew is being questioned and the content of its containers will be checked,” a coast guard official, who declined to be named, told Reuters. 

The coast guard provided no further details of what kind of arms the freighter had on board, or its ownership. 

If the Greek authorities determine the cargo of the Bolivia-flagged ship named “MV Haddad-1” was en route to a recipient not in accordance with the customs declaration, and if Athens provides information to Turkey, then Ankara would take the necessary measures, Bilgiç said. The owners of the ship were registered in Pire, Greece, he said, adding the vessel was loaded with 12 cargo containers before arriving at İskenderun. 

Libya is currently divided between two rival governments battling for control, leaving a security vacuum being exploited by migrant smugglers and Islamic militants.