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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Turkish arms smuggling ship caught on the way to North Africa

From Greek news blog Hessasfrappe; Greek-language news articles have this story as well:

Port and customs officials were put on alert on Thursday after finding out that a cargo ship that had requested to be refueled (transit oil) at the port of Heracles (in Asteria Agrias) was carrying heavy weaponry and ammunition. Officials immediately informed the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Merchant Marine and the headquarters of the Hellenic Coast Guard. Following this, officials secured the area around the port and special forces from the Coast Guard conducted a thorough investigation.

According to a report from the Thessaly Journal, the ship "Alexandretta" -which was flying the flag of Saint Vincent- was from Turkey, and although it is registered as a cement bulk cargo ship was in all reality suspiciously transporting a huge quantity of weapons and ammunition. It said that unconfirmed reports also spoke of portable antiaircraft guns and anti-tank missiles, ammunition and infantry weapons such as Kalashnikov guns, etc.

The newspaper noted that the ship was bound for Libya, but also said that it could have been headed towards Mali to arm Islamic rebels fighting there.

The newspaper, quoting reliable sources, said that as soon as Greek authorities were notified, they surrounded the ship, and prevented any embarking and disembarking to be conducted. For security purposes the ship was then forced to dock at the port of Volos, where it was immediately quarantined and under the watchful eye of competent authorities.

According to legislation, ships transporting weaponry -bound for countries such as Libya, Iran, Syria- are forbidden to pass through Greece. The newspaper said that the ship's capacity is 4,000 tonnes, but it did not disclose the exact weight of the cargo.
NATO defends Turkey while Turkey appears to be sending weapons to fight a NATO member.

Western media has not yet picked this story up, even though it was reported on Friday.

(h/t Israel Matzav via RK)