Cyprus to search suspected Hamas arms ship twice
JERUSALEM, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Cypriot authorities have detained an Iranian ship en route to Syria with a cargo of weapons, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported on Friday.
Quoting a European Union diplomatic source, it said Cyprus had acted after Israel and the United States requested that the Cypriot-flagged vessel be stopped.
Authorities contacted the ship and demanded that it dock in Limassol for inspection. Customs officials had unloaded part of the cargo and a large amount of weaponry, including artillery rounds and rockets, the paper said.
Cypriot authorities declined comment.
Israel believes the weapons were destined for the Lebanese Islamist guerrilla group Hezbollah or for Islamist Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, Haaretz quoted Israeli sources as saying.
On Wednesday, U.S. military officials said personnel from the U.S. Navy vessel San Antonio last week boarded the Cypriot-flagged "Monchegorsk", a cargo vessel travelling from Iran to Syria, and found a weapons shipment but for legal reasons did not confiscate the cargo.
The officials declined to say what kind of weapons were found or how many. They also would not be specific about where or when the incident occurred.
According to AP a Cypriot official says authorities will conduct a second search of a ship suspected of carrying Iranian arms to Hamas militants in Gaza.
Posted on 01/31/2009 9:10 AM by Esmerelda WEatherwax