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Finland Seizes Ship With Patriot Missiles and Explosives Bound For China

Finland Seizes Ship With Patriot Missiles and Explosives Bound For China

"Cargo was marked as containing fireworks."

(The Blaze/AP)-- Finnish authorities on Wednesday impounded 160 tons of explosives and 69 surface-to-air missiles found on a British-flagged cargo ship ultimately destined for Shanghai, China, officials said.

The M/S Thor Liberty sailed from the north German port of Emden on Dec. 13 and two days later docked in Kotka, southern Finland, to pick up a cargo of anchor chains, Finnish Customs spokesman Petri Lounatmaa said.

"We have impounded the explosives and missiles and asked the Defense Ministry to transport and store them," Lounatmaa said. "At this stage we don't know where it  was loaded on the ship or if the Thor Liberty planned a drop before its port of destination in China."

Investigating officers remain uncertain of the origin of the Patriot missiles or who was supposed to receive them. The ship's two most senior officers were being interrogated as of Thursday.

According to CBS News, however, a Detective Chief Superintendent in Finland's Nation Bureau of Investigation, said he didn't believe the weapons are connected to terrorism., saying "As far as we can make out the shipment was legal," said Virtanen. "They were not trying to smuggle the missiles... they are destined for South Korea."

Dock workers found the explosives — picric acid — badly stored on open pallets instead of in closed containers. They alerted inspectors who found the missiles in containers marked as holding fireworks.

Interior Minister Paivi Rasanen said she had not heard of a similar case.

"Of course, there are legal transports of weapons or defense material (through Finland) but in this case the cargo was marked as containing fireworks," Rasanen told national broadcaster YLE TV. "That is quite unusual."

Lounatmaa said customs officials and police have launched a joint investigation into a possible breach of Finnish export and weapons trading laws

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