American and Australian navy officers have claimed on Monday that they have seized over 2,000 weapons on a fishing boat off the Oman coast going to Somalia.
According to a statement from the Australian navy, the cache of weapons included 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 1,989 AK-47 assault rifles, 49 PKM machine guns and 39 PKM spare barrels as well as 20 mortar tubes. These were hidden under nets to ensure no one noticed them. However, it was still unclear who was transporting the weapons and for what use. The HMAS Darwin frigate team seized the weapons on February 27.
The US Navy thinks the boat came from Iran as the crew members were Iranian, US Naval Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Ian McConnaughey told NBC News via an email.
According to NBC, the Australian ship that was seized belonged to Combined Task Force 150 which is an anti-terror, smuggling and piracy tool. The ship’s membership includes Canada, the UK and the US to name a few. The seizure of weapons was conducted under United Nations sanctions that do not allow the delivery of armaments to Somalia. The seized weapons will be sent to US custody for further analysis and disposal, if necessary, the spokesman said.
When the HMAS Darwin sailors boarded the ship, they did not find the flag of any state that could help them identify to whom or where the ship belonged to. BBC reported that Australia’s Vice-Admiral David Johnston said that the number of weapons being transported through the ship indicated the significance of matter.
McConnaughey’s initial assessment was that the armaments were on its way to Yemen, a nation currently trapped between the conflict between the Shiite Houthi rebels led by Iran and the international government supported by Saudi Arabia.