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Italian authorities confirm seizure of UAVs destined for Libya

A still from a video shows Guardia di Finanza personnel unwrapping the fuselage of a UAV that was found in a container at the Italian port of Gioia Tauro. (Guardia di Finanza )

Italy's Guardia di Finanza has confirmed reports that it found unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in containers that were destined for Libya in contravention of the United Nations arms embargo on that country.

It released a statement on 2 July saying components for two military UAVs were found in six containers that were being shipped from China to Libya via the Italian Port of Gioia Tauro.

It was previously reported that Italian authorities had found containers containing suspected weapons onboard MSC Arina when it arrived in Gioia Tauro on 18 June. The containers were reportedly destined for Benghazi, which is controlled by the Libyan faction commanded by Khalifa Haftar.

MSC Arina left Gioia Tauro on 20 June and sailed to the Moroccan port of Tanger Med, not Libya, before heading towards the Cape of Good Hope.

While the Italian authorities reportedly received US intelligence about the suspected weapons shipment, the Guardia di Finanza said the containers were identified by examining suspicious shipping routes and anomalies in accompanying customs documentation.

It said the UAVs were disguised as wind turbine parts and released photographs and a video showing its personnel removing a plastic wrapping to reveal the main fuselage section of one of the aircraft and a wing that appeared to have been packed alongside a wind turbine blade.

Citing unidentified sources, The Times reported on 30 June that the Italian authorities had found Chinese-made Wing Loong UAVs and two control stations in three containers taken from MSC Arina and were waiting for MSC Apolline

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