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India detains crew of US ship carrying weapons

Monday - 10/14/2013, 8:26am  ET

NEW DELHI (AP) -- Indian police on Monday questioned the crew of a U.S.-owned ship accused of illegally transporting weapons and ammunition in Indian waters.

Indian marine security police in the southeastern port of Tuticorin filed a complaint against the crew and 25 armed security guards aboard the MV Seaman Ohio after they failed to produce documents allowing them to carry the weapons, coast guard officials said.

Coast guard official Santosh Kumar Singh said the ship is owned by a Virginia-based security company, AdvanFort, but is registered in Sierra Leone.

Police said the ship's captain told investigators that AdvanFort provides armed escorts to merchant vessels traveling in pirate-infested waters in the Indian Ocean.

AdvanFort could not immediately be reached for comment.

The ship had 10 crew members and 25 armed security guards from India, Britain, Estonia, and Ukraine, coast guard officials said.

The coast guard detained the ship on Saturday after Indian security agencies received information about weapons being transported on the vessel.

Singh said the ship's crew told the coast guard that documents for the weapons were with the company.

Police said they filed the complaint after the crew failed to produce the documents over two days.

India is very sensitive about the presence of armed security guards on merchant ships after the shooting deaths of two fishermen by armed Italian marines last year.

The marines were part of a military security team on a cargo ship when they fired at the fishermen, mistaking them for pirates.

The two Italians are facing trial in India for the deaths.


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