The Indonesian National Police have denied that their peacekeeping force was involved in smuggling weapons from Sudan.
Local media reported that an Indonesian police unit, identified as the Indonesian Formed Police Unit (FPU VIII), had been detained at the Al Fashir Airport for allegedly attempting to smuggle a large number of weapons and ammunition when they were about to return to Indonesia last weekend.
National Police spokesman Chief Comr. Martinus Sitompul, however, denied the accusation.
The unit was scheduled to depart from Sudan on Saturday, with new unit FPU IX to replace it in the peacekeeping mission, Martinus said.
The luggage that contained the weapons and ammunition was not part of the Indonesian police unit’s belongings, Martinus explained.
The luggage — which contained 29 Kalashnikov rifles, 4 shotguns, 6 GM3 rifles and 61 different types of guns, as well as a large number of amunition — had tags in different color to the Indonesian unit’s belongings and did not belong to any of the Indonesian police officers.
“Sudanese [police officers] asked whether the luggage belonged to the Indonesian unit three times. Our officers denied the charge each time, pointing out that the luggage wasn’t attached with the Indonesian unit’s tag,” Martinus said on Monday (23/01).
“After the incident at the airport, accusations that the unit had tried to smuggle weapons started to appear. That was the sequence of the incident, as told to us by the FPU VIII unit chief Supt. John Huntalhutajulu Sitanggang,” he added.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said there were a number of inconsistencies in the details of early reports about the incident. He also said that the United Nations had started its own investigation into the incident.
“The Indonesian ambassador in Khartoum will assist our police unit,” Arrmanatha told reporters.
A team from the National Police is set to leave for Sudan soon to provide legal assistance to the officers and get a complete picture of the matter.
The Indonesian Military, or TNI, has also denied that its own peacekeeping force, which served under the flag of the United Nations Missions in Darfur (Unamid), was also involved in the attempt to smuggle weapons out of Sudan.
TNI spokesman Maj. Gen. Wuryanto said the TNI unit still has until March in Sudan before the end of its mission and that high-ranking officers responsible for the force, including the unit’s chief Brig. Gen. Nur Alamsyah, have also denied the reports.