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Swedish arms in Burma 'arrived via India'

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Swedish arms in Burma 'arrived via India'
17:36 CET+01:00
The Swedish anti-tank rifles that ended up in the hands of Burmese soldiers in breach of European Union sanctions were originally exported to India, Sweden's trade minister said on Thursday.

"The Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (Inspektionen för Strategiska Produkter, ISP) has requested an expedited answer from India and my state secretary has been in touch with India's ambassador," Trade Minister Ewa Björling said on the floor of the Swedish parliament on Thursday.

She added that ISP's ability to trace the weapon, a Carl Gustav M3 anti-tank rifle, was evidence that Sweden's export controls work.

According to Björling, India's ambassador in Stockholm has confirmed information that the weapon in question is the same as the rifles in Burma that the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper first reported about.

She added that the ambassador has promised that India will cooperate with Sweden to investigate how the weapon ended up in Burma, which borders India's restive north-eastern regions.

"There has been a weapons embargo in place against Burma for a very long time and Sweden hasn't exported any weapons there since," Björling said on the Riksdag floor.

According to SvD, the Burmese army used a new model of the Carl Gustav in combat with local rebels and against civilian targets in Burma in October.

When the army withdrew, they left the weapons behind.

Pictures taken by a Burmese freelance photographer and published in the Swedish media this week show a Carl Gustav M3 anti-tank rifle and ammunition left behind by Burmese government soldiers. They were recovered by Kachin rebels after recent clashes.

The weapon's serial number is clearly visible in one of the photographs.

The Swedish defence group Saab, which manufactures the weapon, has previously said it did not sell the rifle to Burma and suggested its military must have obtained it from a third party.

While Saab is not involved in the current investigation about how the weapon made its way to Burma, representatives have said the company will do whatever necessary to help move the inquest forward.

TT/AFP/The Local/dl

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