US detains smuggling ship carrying 40 tons of urea fertiliser

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Washington, Jan. 23 (BNA):  The U.S. Navy announced Sunday it seized a boat in the Gulf of Oman carrying fertilizer used to make explosives that was caught last year smuggling weapons to Yemen.


The U.S. Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet said its guided-missile destroyer USS Cole and patrol ships halted and searched the sailboat, a stateless fishing dhow, that was sailing from Iran on a well-worn maritime arms smuggling route last Tuesday.


U.S. forces found 40 tons of urea fertilizer, known to be a key ingredient in homemade improvised explosive devices, hidden on board, said an AP report.


Authorities said the vessel had been previously seized and found last year to be loaded with thousands of assault rifles and rocket launchers, among other weapons.


U.N. experts say weapons with such technical characteristics likely come from Iran to support the Houthi rebels.


The Navy turned over the vessel, cargo and Yemeni crew to Yemen’s coast guard earlier this week.