A cache of weapons, reportedly meant for Somalia terror group al Shabaab, that was intercepted by Australian Navy off the Coast of Oman, March 7, 2016. Photo/COURTESY
Australia seizes suspected al Shabaab arsenal to Somalia
A large cache of assorted weapons suspected to belong to al Shabaab was on Monday seized by an Australian warship patrolling the Oman coast.
The weapons included 1,989 AK-47 rifles, 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 Russian PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 spare PKM barrels and 20, 60 millimetre mortar tubes.
Australian media said the fishing boat that contained the weapons was intercepted under United Nations sanctions that authorise confiscation of illegal weapons on high seas.
The vessel was spotted by the HMAS Darwin crew about 170 nautical miles (314.84 kilometres) off the coast of Oman, the news agencies reported.
A naval team was sent to investigate and carry out a “flag verification exercise”. The team carried out a search on finding the vessel was unregistered, making it stateless.
The seizure said to be the largest ever intercepted found a cargo of weapons hidden under fishing nets and other assorted cargo.
The vessel also had 18 occupants of various nationalities but officials said they were verifying the validity of their identification documents.
Military and defence experts sought to find out the possible sources of the weapons following several assaults by the al Qaeda-linked terror group.
The latest attack was on a Kenya Defence Forces camp in El Adde, Somalia, that left dozens of soldiers dead and others reportedly captured. The government is yet to formally release the figures but reports put the casualty at more than 100.
HMAS Darwin, also known as FFG 04 of the Royal Australian Navy, is in the Middle East as part of a multinational operation to intercept terrorists, smuggled drugs and other goods that finance the group’s operations.
The force is a multinational effort to prevent terrorism, piracy and drug smuggling, encourage regional co-operation and promote a secure maritime environment in the Middle East and off the northeast coast of Africa.
Vice Admiral David Johnston, chief of the Australian Defence Force’s Joint Operations READ MORE