Nigeria announced, Tuesday, that its secret service managed to intercept 13 containers reportedly loaded with weapons that are believed to be sent from Iran to the Hamas movement in Gaza.The explosives and the grenades were camouflaged as construction materials, and were seized at Lagos Port in Nigeria.
Media sources in Nigeria reported that the ship came from Iran, docked in Lagos for a few hours and sailed on after unloading 13 containers.
Nigerian State Security Service spokeswoman, Marilyn Ogar, stated that after opening the first container, grenades, rocket launchers, and different sorts of explosives were located.
Quoting Ogar, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that the weapons were concealed among crates of floor tiles.
Andrew Azazi, Nigerian National Security Advisor, refused to specify which ship carried the weapons, and only said that the government intends to destroy all located weapons.
Also, the Nigerian media said that the clearing agent in charge of unloading the containers at the port tried to bribe customs officers in an attempt to have them move the containers to an off-dock terminal, where the ships can be screened outside of the port, but the officers alerted the security services who in return ordered all containers opened, Haaretz said.
Israel is currently holding talks with Nigeria in an attempt to acquire more information about the weapons, and have an investigation started.
Israel believes that uncovering the weapons shipment likely exposed a new route, via Africa, for smuggling weapons sent from Iran to Hamas in Gaza.
A senior Israeli defense source stated that Iran is having difficulties in sending weapons to Gaza via Sinai due to the tightened security measures on the Red Sea and the Sinai desert, and due to international supervision on Iranian ships.
The source added that it is likely that Iran intended to unload the shipment in Nigeria in order to transfer the weapons to Sudan and then to Sinai.
In March of last year, the Israeli Air Force fired missiles at a convoy In Sudan believed to be loaded with weapons meant to be sent to the Gaza Strip. The attack left 39 persons dead while several civilians in the targeted area were wounded.
According to Israeli security services, this is believed to be the third failed attempt by Iran to smuggle weapons into the region.
In November 2009, the Israeli Navy boarded the Francop vessel while in the Mediterranean Sea. The ship carried hundreds of tons of weapons believed to be sent from Iran to Syria, and to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah Party.
In September 2010, a weapons shipment believed to be sent from Iran to Syria was intercepted at the Calabria Port Italy and a few days later, a North Korean weapons shipment believed to be heading to Syria was captured in a port in Greece.