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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

4 Kazakhs, Belarussian Held For Arms Cargo in Thailand

APThe Il-76 crew members being escorted in a Bangkok police station Sunday.

BANGKOK — Thailand has arrested four Kazakhs and a Belarussian whose Georgian-registered plane was carrying arms from North Korea in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Military and police sources, declining to be identified, said the United States had tipped the Thai authorities off about the 35 tons of arms that the plane held. The cache included explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and components for surface-to-air missiles.

Air Force spokesman Montol Suchookorn said the chartered cargo plane, an Il-76, originated in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, and requested to land at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport to refuel Friday.

Thai officials said the plane might have been heading for Pakistan and had been scheduled to stop in Sri Lanka for refueling.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said it would take several days to obtain details on the incident, which would be reported to the United Nations, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The five crew members are to appear in court Monday. They have denied wrongdoing, police said. Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the crew members initially declared the cargo to be oil-drilling equipment.

North Korea has been widely accused of violating United Nations sanctions by selling weapons to nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Thai authorities said the weapons were moved by trucks amid high security Saturday night from the airport to a military base in the nearby province of Nakhon Sawan. 

(Reuters, AP)