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'Egypt seizes Iranian ship loaded with weapons'

April 4, 2013 21:11

Ship's cargo contains 45 ton of weapons, was reportedly heading to Egypt; Egypt says ship was Togolese, not Iranian.

Iran navy ship travels through Suez Canal [file]

Iranian naval ship travels through the Suez Canal 390 (R). (photo credit:REUTERS)

The Egyptian Navy captured a Togo-flagged ship carrying heavy weapons as it entered Egyptian waters in the Red Sea late on Wednesday, three security sources told Reuters on Thursday.

The ship spent a week in international waters before entering Egyptian waters where the ship was escorted into the port of Safaga, 569 km. southeast of Cairo, according to the sources.

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The origin and facts surrounding the seizure remain unclear amid contradicting reports. The Now Lebanon website reported that the ship was Iranian.

The ship carried 45 tons of weapons including land mines, automatic rifles, and hand grenades, according to the Aswat Masriya website.

Americans and Britons were among the crew members, the site said.

According to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al- Youm, Egypt arrested 14 crew members and a second ship with four people on board. Both vessels are owned by a Ukrainian security firm.

“The weapons and ammunition seized in the vessel are linked to the nature of their work and the tasks assigned to them to secure commercial vessels,” General Staff spokesman Brig.- Gen. Ahmed Mohamed Ali stated on his Facebook page.

Ships often hire private security firms to defend themselves from Somali pirates.

An AFP report differed from others as it stated that Egypt seized a ship flying an African flag after it left Eilat, heading for Togo. The report also stated that 14 crew members were captured along with arms, and that Egyptian security officials were investigating the legality of the shipment.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Army denied discussing redemarcation of the border with Israel with President Mohamed Morsi, according to the Egypt State Information Service.

This comes after a report on the Egyptian Independent website on Tuesday that security forces arrested 15 suspected terrorists in Sinai after they marched with assault weapons through the northern Sinai towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed.

The report also quoted military sources as saying that the army will crack down relentlessly against Sinai terrorists. The military has set up more than 75 checkpoints in order to catch other Salafi jihadists, according to the Egyptian website.

Yaara Shalom contributed to this report.
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