Gambia severs all ties with Iran after arms seizure
BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambia announced on Monday it was severing all ties with Iran, a move which sources close to Banjul's foreign ministry said followed the seizure of arms from Iran believed to be bound for the West African state.
Nigeria's secret service intercepted the haul of rockets and other explosives in Lagos last month and said shipping documents appeared to show that the weapons had been due for re-export to Gambia.
Nigeria reported the seizure to the U.N. Security Council, where diplomats have said Tehran could be in breach of sanctions imposed over its refusal to halt nuclear activities.
"All government of the Gambia projects and programmes, which were (being) implemented in cooperation with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been cancelled," the Gambian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It added that Iranian government personnel had 48 hours to leave the country. While it gave no official reason for the move, sources close to the ministry said it was linked to the arms shipment seizure.
Investigations have focused on two Iranians believed to be senior members of the Revolutionary Guards, Iran's elite military force, diplomatic and security sources say.
Nigeria's secret service was able to question one of the men, who had taken refuge in the Iranian embassy in Nigeria's capital Abuja. But it has been unable to question a second Iranian in the embassy because he has diplomatic immunity.
© Thomson Reuters 2014 All rights reserved