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article imageNorth Korean ship suspected of carrying weapons seized in Panama

By Igor I. Solar     Jul 16, 2013 in World
Panama City - A North Korean flagged ship travelling from Cuba and bound for North Korea was seized at the port of Colon on Monday 15. The vessel was carrying undeclared war material, reported the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli.
The ship, coming from the Caribbean, was to cross the Panama Canal on its way to the Pacific Ocean. The detention was made at a port terminal in Colon province, about 80 kilometers north of the capital. In Colon operate several major container ports, including Cristóbal and Manzanillo, at the entrance of the Panama Canal from the Atlantic.
President Martinelli reported to RPC, a local radio station (in Spanish), that port authorities had intelligence for several days about the possibility that the North Korean vessel could be transporting drugs. "The material had been hidden in containers under cargo of brown sugar”. “This is a purely Panamanian operation carried out by the National Naval Service and drug investigation units." said Martinelli.
According to the authorities, the North Korean captain adopted an "attitude of confrontation". He suffered a heart attack and even tried to commit suicide when the Panamanian security agents and drug authorities requested information about the ship’s cargo. Both the captain and his crew of 35 men resisted the inspection, but eventually the ship could be brought to the port of Manzanillo International Terminal, which is a private terminal built in a former U.S. naval base.
The ship was carrying in its hold over 22,000 tons of brown sugar under which were the containers with military equipment. According to president Martinelli and the National Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino, the arms could be ballistic missiles or some sort of unconventional weapons. "This material was not declared and Panama, being a neutral country, a country at peace ... we are very concerned that military equipment ... may pass through the Panama Canal which could have international repercussions," said Martinelli.
The crew is now in custody of the Panamanian security agency and drug authorities. They will receive humanitarian assistance, said minister Mulino.
More about Weapons, Drugs, Panama, Panama canal, Cuba
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