Ship mystery resolved as UN confirms consignment

Kolkata, June 27 (Calcutta Tube) The mystery surrounding the Karachi-bound ship, intercepted on the Hooghly with arms and ammunition used by multi-national troops in a United Nations peacekeeping mission, was resolved Sunday with the UN authorities confirming the consignment.

The vessel would now set sail for Karachi after unloading here the cargo meant for the Nepal Army.

The customs officials received a communication from the New York-based Movement Control officials of the UN Mission confirming the consignment that included rocket launchers, smoke bombs and anti-aircraft guns, apart from other sophisticated arms and ammunition, police sources said.

The letter from the UN office was received in response to queries made by the customs authorities seeking detailed information about the Liberia-registered ‘Aegean Glory’, which was brought to the Kolkata dock Sunday afternoon amid tight security.

Customs sources said the UN letter also apologised for the inconvenience to the authorities and admitted that the confusion was created as the ship did not have proper documentation. The missive also said the authorities here had also not been properly intimated about the consignment by the ship.

‘Following the letter, it has been decided not to carry out any search operation in the vessel,’ the sources said.

Earlier, it was decided that the customs officials will open the container cargo to ascertain its contents and tally the weapons in the container with the list made by the security officials after interrogation of the captain of the ship.

‘If any discrepancies are found, legal action will be taken against the owner of the ship and the crew members,’ state police chief Bhupinder Singh said.

The vessel was slated to unload the military cargo at different ports to return the weapons of the nations that participated in the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) that began in 2003 to contain the conflict arising out of the second Liberian civil war.

The 152.35 metre-long vessel loaded the military cargo at Monrovia port in Liberia, started its journey May 17 and sailed to Port Louis in Mauritius June 4.

The ship unloaded a part of its military cargo first at St. Louis and then at Cox Bazar port near Chittagong in Bangladesh and then set sail for Kolkata dock to unload some military cargo that belongs to the Nepal Army, he added.

The documents seized from the Greek captain, however, had no mention of Pakistan, where the vessel was to sail finally to unload the remaining cargo, the DGP said.

‘The rest of the military cargo, including rocket launchers, smoke bombs and anti-aircraft guns, apart from other sophisticated arms and ammunition, was meant for a Karachi-based Major-rank officer, Khalasulla Khan. But this was not mentioned in the documents,’ he said.

All the security agencies concerned and the ministries of external affairs, defence and home were alerted after the interception of the ship.

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