Egypt releases arms ship that sailed from Eilat

Togolese vessel, detained last week after straying into territorial waters, was carrying dozens of crates of munitions


A Togolese-flagged ship that carried arms from Israel’s port of Eilat was released by Egypt on Sunday and allowed to continue on its voyage after being detained late last week.

Egyptian authorities said they were satisfied that the ship was operating on behalf of an international security company protecting shipping in the Red Sea from Somali pirates, Reuters reported.

The COMR, with its crew of 14, was stopped last Wednesday as it sailed about 12 nautical miles from Ras Mohammad in the Sinai Peninsula and was escorted back to the port of Sfaga, 569 kilometers south of Cairo. Authorities found the ship was carrying over 100 crates of weapons and ammunition for an African security company.

“The boat belongs to a private maritime security company which serves to secure ships passing through highly dangerous areas, especially in light of the spread of piracy in the southern Red Sea area and off the Somali coast,” General Staff spokesman Ahmed Mohamed Ali wrote on his Facebook page last Thursday according to Reuters.

The COMR was stopped the day before Egyptian authorities seized a fishing boat that was apparently smuggling arms into Sinai. The ship was reportedly an Iranian vessel bearing 60,000 rifles, RPG launchers, machine guns, hand grenades and ammunition, according to Israel Radio. It was captured 30 kilometers off Ras Mohammad, the southernmost point of the peninsula.

International shipping companies that use routes through the Red Sea often hire security companies to beef up protection of their vessels against attacks from Somali pirates.

The increased security, along with warship patrols from a number of navies, helped bring down the number of ships seized by pirates in 2012 to just five, compared to 25 in 2011 and 27 in 2010, Reuters reported.



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