Weapons seized by Australia may have come from Iran, intended for Houthis

Weapons seized by Australia may have come from Iran, intended for Houthis

(CNN) – An Australian naval ship has seized a large arms cache that may have come from Iran and headed to Yemen by way of Somalia.

The Australian Navy said that one of its ships patrolling the region, the HMAS Darwin, intercepted a small, stateless fishing vessel about 170 nautical miles off the coast of Oman when it made the discovery.

On board they found more than 2,000 pieces of weaponry — including 1,989 AK-47 assault rifles and 100 rocket-propelled grenades.

According to a U.S. assessment, the weapons were initially sent from Iran and ultimately intended for Houthi rebels in Yemen, Lt. Ian McConnaughey with the U.S. Navy told CNN.

U.S. Central Command is still gathering more information to determine the arms’ final destination, McConnaughey said.

An Australian Defense Ministry spokesman told CNN there were 18 people of various nationalities on board the ship, but officials could not initially confirm that their identification documents were valid.

Authorities believe the weapons were headed for Somalia based on interviews with crew members, but that information is preliminary and may change as the investigation continues, the spokesman said.

The crew was allowed to depart after the weapons were seized, in accordance with international maritime law.