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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 July, 2003, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Mystery over Spain arms seizure
There is confusion in Spain over the seizure off the Mediterranean coast of hundreds of firearms from a container ship destined for Africa.

South Korean Defence Ministry officials said the cargo was legal, apparently contradicting Spanish police reports that the weapons were being transported with false documentation.

The cargo, which included 280 K1A machine guns, 100 K2 assault rifles and 760 weapon cartridges, was intercepted off Barcelona on Tuesday on the basis of intelligence reports.

It was said to be on its way from the South Korean port of Pusan to the Senegalese capital, Dakar.

"The shipment is a legal export approved by the [South Korean] Defence Ministry on 12 May," spokesman Major Kim Ki-bum said.

He added that the Spanish authorities might have thought the ship was North Korean.

"We are dumbfounded," an official for Daewoo Precision Industries Company, the company which exported the guns, told the Associated Press news agency.

Baltic Sky
The Baltic Sky's crew was charged on Tuesday
It is not clear exactly where the weapons were destined to end up, but a rebellion is under way in southern Senegal, and there are numerous other armed conflicts in West Africa.

The incident follows the seizure of a vessel carrying explosives by the Greek authorities last month. The ship, the Baltic Sky, was found to have been sailing without registration.

The Baltic Sky's mainly Ukrainian crew has been charged with illegal possession and transport of explosives.

The discoveries come amid heightened terror alerts in the Mediterranean area and elsewhere.

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