“We are working on the reports. For now I have no details, but once we get details we will surely let you (the media) know,” Dr Susan Kolimba, deputy minister for Foreign Affairs, East African, Regional and International Co-operation, said yesterday.
Reports from Athens, said that authorities in Greek had seized a Tanzania-flagged ship heading for Libya and carrying materials used in the making of explosives.
This comes hardly a week after reports of another Tanzania-flagged ship having been intercepted by Dutch naval forces in the Atlantic Ocean some two weeks ago with 1.6 tonnes of cocaine on board.
Yesterday’s reports suggest that the vessel seized was detected sailing near the Greek Island of Crete on Saturday, with the authorities finding 29 containers carrying materials including ammonium nitrate, non-electric detonators and 11 empty liquefied petroleum gas tanks.
“The materials were headed to Libya,” Rear Admiral Ioannis Argiriou told reporters, saying the material could be used in all sorts of activities, from work in quarries to making bombs and facilitating acts of terrorism”.
Arms embargoes imposed by the European Union and the United Nations prohibit the sale, supply or transfer of arms to Libya since 2011.
According to the ship’s bill of lading, the cargo was loaded in the Turkish ports of Mersin and Iskenderum and was destined for Djibouti and Oman.
However, the coastguard said a preliminary investigation found that the captain had been ordered by the vessel’s owners to sail to the Libyan city of Misrata to unload and deliver the entire cargo.
No shipping maps were found on the ship’s logbook for the Djibouti and Oman areas, according to the coastguard.
The eight members of the vessel’s crew were arrested and were scheduled to appear before a prosecutor yesterday.
The unnamed vessel involved in the earlier incident is said to have been spotted by a Dutch naval helicopter on Christmas Day and was seized the next day and escorted to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic by the US Coast Guard.
“Following a thorough inspection, the officials located 1,600 kilos of cocaine hidden between the fuel tanks aboard the ship on December 31,” the World Maritime News website reported.
The ship, its crew and cocaine haul were handed over to the Dominican authorities for further investigation, said the site.
Tanzania has in the past been on the spot over vessels from countries targeted by UN sanctions flying its flag, mainly North Korea and Iranian ships. It has also suffered diplomatic embarrassment after vessels it has flagged were alleged to have been used to ferry illicit drugs.
Last year, Tanzania deregistered 45 foreign vessels for breach of UN sanctions against North Korea.