Sabahi (Washington, DC)

Kenyan Authorities Seize Suspicious Cargo Ship Off Coast

Kenyan authorities are investigating a ship believed to be carrying illegal cargo that was intercepted off the coast of Lamu, Mombasa County acting Police Commander Sevelino Kubai told reporters Thursday (July 3rd).

The MV Al Noor merchant ship was seized en route to Mombasa after the Kenyan Navy received a tip-off about two vessels that had left Mogadishu in unclear circumstances and which were suspected of involvement in drugs or firearms trafficking, Kenya's Capital FM reported.

Kubai said the ship had originated in Pakistan before sailing to Mogadishu, and then into Kenyan waters. It is currently under armed guard in Kilindini harbour and officials are inspecting the vessel and its declared contents of 150 bags of cement.

"They claim that they are carrying 300 metric tonnes of cement from Yemen and we are there to confirm whether it is cement," Kubai said. "We have a team from anti-narcotics who have arrived from Nairobi and investigation is ongoing."

Kubai said discrepancies in the ship's documentation raised suspicions, as Kenya was listed as both the loading point and the destination.

Coast region head of the marine unit Stanley Lamai confirmed that ten crew members -- seven Pakistani citizens, two Indians and one Iranian national -- had been detained and were undergoing questioning, Kenya's Daily Nation reported.

In May, Australian naval officials seized heroin with an estimated street value of $123 million off the coast of Somalia, indicating the scale of international drugs and arms trafficking in the region.

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