MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan security forces searching a Norwegian ship at Mombasa port discovered undeclared weapons among the consignment of U.N. vehicles, local police and the ship’s Norwegian owner said Wednesday.
Rifles and Russian-made rocket-propelled grenades were among a “cache of firearms,” Mombasa police chief Francis Wanjohi told a news conference.
Kenya’s government is trying to determine whether it was a U.N. agency transporting the weapons and why the arms were not disclosed in the cargo manifest, said Wanjohi. Twenty crew members of the vessel will be charged with illegal arms trafficking, he said.
“None of these were declared in the manifest, therefore the Kenyan government was not aware of that,” said Wanjohi. “It is procedural that everything must be declared, but in this case the Kenyan government was not made aware.”
A U.N. peacekeeping spokesman said Wednesday that the weapons found were part of declared cargo packed in India and destined for
the Indian battalion in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo.
“The weapons were declared in the bill of lading but not in the manifest,” the spokesman said. “A request was sent by the U.N. contractor responsible for the shipment to the Mombasa ship agent to amend the manifest, but since this was not possible, a declaration of the weapons accompanying the military vehicles was attached.”
“It is unfortunate that the Kenyan authorities inspected the cargo without a U.N. presence, which runs contrary to established protocol,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman, who commented on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said it is normal practice for weapons attached to carriers to be dismantled and placed inside them to avoid damage during shipping.
All the U.N. trucks on the ship will remain at the port until the verification exercise is completed, Wanjohi said.
An investigation is ongoing and a report will explain why police targeted the ship, the Hoegh Transporter, said Kenyan police spokesman Charles Owino.
The Norwegian shipping company Hoegh Autoliners confirmed in statement Wednesday that Kenyan authorities found weapons inside some of the U.N. vehicles that had not been declared in the cargo manifest.
The shipping company said its shipping contract clearly stated that no weapons should be transported.
Associated Press writer Cara Anna in New York contributed to this report.
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