UPDATE 4-Colombia detains China Cosco Shipping vessel over illegal arms
(Adds comment from Norinco)
BOGOTA/SHANGHAI, March 4 (Reuters) - Colombian authorities detained a vessel operated by China's largest shipping group for illegally transporting thousands of cannon shells, about 100 tonnes of gunpowder and other materials used to make explosives, the attorney general's office said.
The Da Dan Xia, operated by Cosco Shipping Co Ltd , was headed for Cuba when it was stopped on Saturday in the northern port of Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast, after the materials were detected during an inspection.
The cargo was listed in the records of the 28,451 deadweight-tonne ship as grain products. The captain of the Hong Kong-flagged vessel had been arrested, the attorney general's office said.
China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the ship was carrying ordinary military supplies to Cuba and was not in violation of any international obligations.
"It is completely normal military trade cooperation. At present, China is communicating with Colombia on this matter," Hua said.
A Cosco Shipping official in the firm's Guangzhou head office said the ship was operated by the company but added she was unaware of the incident. Cosco Shipping is part of the state-backed China Ocean Shipping Group Co (COSCO) conglomerate.
Cargo documentation the captain presented did not match the load the ship was found to be carrying, Luis Gonzalez, national director of the Colombian attorney general's office, told reporters.
"Around 100 tonnes of powder, 2.6 million detonators, 99 projectiles and around 3,000 cannon shells were found," Gonzalez added. Continuación...