News / Africa

French Company Confirms Weapons Seized in Nigeria Came From Iran

A French-based shipping company has confirmed that a shipment of arms seized in Nigeria this week came from Iran.

In a statement Saturday, international shipping company CNA CGM said the shipment originated in the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and was delivered to Lagos in July. It was taken to a depot where it has been stored untouched since then.

Nigeria's secret service on Tuesday discovered the 13 shipping containers of illegal weapons, including rockets, rifle rounds, grenades and explosives at the main port in Lagos.  The shipping company said labels on the crates indicate they contained stone and glass wool.

Authorities have arrested at least two people in connection with the weapons cache. The shipping company is cooperating with authorities.

Israeli officials had said the weapons were bound for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. A Hamas leader in Gaza denied the weapons were headed to Gaza.

The Iranian embassy in Nigeria indicated it may issue a statement on the weapons seizure in the coming days.

Israel has repeatedly warned Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups against firing rockets into its cities and territory.

Some reports say Nigerian customs officials were tipped off to the shipment by foreign intelligence and had the cargo vessel under surveillance.  The Associated Press reports Nigerian inspectors became suspicious after the shipment lacked proper paperwork.

Nigeria has been on alert since a bombing near an October 1 independence day celebration killed 12 people.  

A militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, claimed responsibility for the attack.  Nigeria's intelligence agency has since said it will charge five suspects in connection with the attack.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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