Royal Solomon Islands Police Pressure Commissioner Mostyn Mangau says reproduction firearms incapable of firing dwell rounds.
Solomon Islands police have denied allegations that China secretly shipped firearms to the Pacific Island nation final 12 months, following an Al Jazeera report that uncovered new particulars in regards to the controversial cargo.
Royal Solomon Islands Police Pressure (RSIPF) Commissioner Mostyn Mangau mentioned the cargo in query contained imitation firearms and there had been no try and smuggle or conceal real weapons.
“These reproduction firearms … aren’t able to firing any dwell munitions. They’re for coaching functions and weigh about the identical weight as actual rifles and pistols,” Mangau mentioned in a press release on Tuesday.
The RSIPF assertion got here after opposition chief Matthew Wale referred to as on the police chief to “come clear” in regards to the cargo following revelations that america doubted the federal government’s clarification.
Al Jazeera reported final week that US diplomats believed the cargo in March 2022 seemingly contained actual pistols and rifles, not “replicas” meant for coaching functions as claimed by the federal government.
“The weapons within the photograph have been packed in picket crates, appeared actual, and had distinctive serial numbers,” the US embassy in Papua New Guinea mentioned in a diplomatic cable obtained via a freedom of knowledge request.
US diplomats additional questioned why the cargo – presupposed to comprise 95 reproduction rifles and 92 reproduction pistols – had been unloaded below the duvet of darkness if it was a routine supply.
“[Mangau] would have Solomon Islanders consider that offloading cargo from logging vessels onto barges that float into the capital at 3am is commonplace observe,” the cable mentioned.
“In keeping with Mangau’s clarification, it was common for the federal government to import 4 massive crates of weapons with out itemizing objects on a manifest, notifying customs officers or informing the general public.”
Solomon Islands, an archipelago of simply over 700,000 folks, has in recent times discovered itself on the centre of an escalating geopolitical rivalry between China and the US and its allies.
Final 12 months’s cargo got here at an particularly delicate time for the Pacific Island nation amid heightened ethnic and political tensions within the aftermath of riots within the capital’s Chinatown.
Below Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, Solomon Islands has deepened its relations with China, prompting divisions contained in the nation and alarm amongst officers within the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Sogavare dropped recognition of self-ruled Taiwan in 2019 and final 12 months signed a safety cooperation settlement with Beijing, which Western officers worry could possibly be used as a launching pad for a Chinese language army base within the Pacific.