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EU naval mission interdicts second ship carrying armoured vehicles to Libya

Meerdijk with armoured vehicles loaded on its deck. (Operation Irini)

The cargo ship carrying armoured vehicles to Libya was stopped on 11 October, the European Union Naval Force's Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med) Operation ‘Irini' announced on 9 November.

‘Irini', which enforces the United Nations (UN) arms embargo on Libya, said dozens of vehicles were discovered when a naval vessel searched the Netherlands-flagged ship Meerdijk off the North African country's coast. The ship was diverted to a European port and the vehicles were seized.

It did not identify the vehicles or say how many were found but released photographs showing 15 on the ship's deck and at least another 13 in its cargo hold. The vehicles appeared to be BATT UMGs made by The Armored Group (TAG), which is based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). TAG vehicles have previously been seen in service with the eastern Libyan forces led by Khalifa Haftar, a former general backed by the UAE.

Ship tracking data shows Meerdijk left Al Hamriyah port in Dubai on 27 September and transited the Suez Canal on 8 October. It was then diverted to Marseille.

On 20 July, ‘Irini' announced that dozens of vehicles that had been modified for military purposes were found when the vehicle carrier Victory Roro was searched two days earlier. The ship was travelling from Aqaba in Jordan to Benghazi in eastern Libya.

‘Irini' identified Victory Roro as a ship that the UN Panel of Experts on Libya said delivered Spartan armoured vehicles made by the Streit Group to eastern Libya in March. Streit has a production facility in Aqaba as well as in the UAE.

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