Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Handgun cache 'may have been non-lethal'

Turkish arms maker believes weapons may have been non-lethal handguns manufactured at his factory

ISTANBUL // The cache of 16,000 handguns seized in Dubai may have been non-lethal, blank-firing pistols, a Turkish arms manufacturer said yesterday.

Irfan Akdal said after examining photographs of the pistols that he believed they were non-lethal handguns that had been manufactured at his Ucyildiz Silah Sanayi factory in Istanbul.

He said that in January his company had sold a consignment of about the same amount of "traumatic" pistols, which fire non-lethal rounds such as rubber bullets, and blank-firing handguns to the Turkish export company involved in the case.

The company has not been named by Dubai police, and Mr Akdal also declined to identify the company.

According to a high-ranking Turkish diplomat, the government in Ankara is treating the case as "non-political". He said it was impossible at the moment to state with certainty whether the guns were blank-firing or real firearms.

"It looks like just a criminal incident, we are still investigating," said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

There was no statement by Turkish law enforcement agencies regarding the case.

Dubai police announced on Thursday that they had seized a cache of handguns worth an estimated Dh16 million, hidden among boxes of plastic-wrapped furniture bound for Sa'dah, in northern Yemen.

Six men have been arrested in Dubai in connection with the seizure, among them the owner of a Turkish arms company.

Yemen's north has been the scene of bloody fighting between the Shiite Houthi rebel group and Yemeni government forces for the past seven years.

"It looks like our product," Mr Akdal said, adding "we are not absolutely sure, but it is very possible" that the guns seized in Dubai came from his factory.

He said he had an invoice from the purchase dated January 12, but declined to give the name of the export company.

"This is our customer, we may get into trouble," he said.

Mr Akdal also said it was technically possible to convert blank-firing guns into real firearms, but the conversion was difficult and not safe for the person using the gun. "You can convert it, but it is dangerous. It can blow out."

According to Turkish media, all firearms exports require approval from the foreign ministry, while the export of blank-firing weapons needs approval issued by the ministry of industry.

The Turkish foreign ministry yesterday issued a statement on the seizure, saying no permission had been given for the attempted arms shipment and that an investigation had been launched.

With reference to Yemen, the suspected destination of the weapons, the foreign ministry underlined that Turkey was careful not to fuel tensions in other countries by arms deliveries.

"Our country strives to look carefully at requests for arms exports to countries experiencing or under the risk of violent clashes, and to make sure that arms transfers from our country do not result in instability," the statement said.

"Also, data related to arms exports from our country are transparently shared with the relevant international institutions."

Mr Akdal, the arms manufacturer, said he did not know to whom the export company sold the blank guns, or why the weapons were hidden in furniture. He also said he did not know the Turkish national arrested in connection with the suspected arms smuggling.

Turkish media reported the Turkish suspect, identified only by his first name Irfan in the reports, was a factory owner from Duzce in north-western Turkey. There was no confirmation from the government.

A Turkish arms company with a factory in Duzce, Sarsilmaz Silah Sanayi, said in a statement that it had nothing to do with the Dubai case.

Mr Akdal said the shipment of 16,000 guns was "a very small amount" for his company. "We are selling 30,000 every month," he said.

Most blank guns are used to fire into the air at weddings or other occasions, he added.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Sarah Geronimo. Courtesy: FLASH Entertainment

Sarah Geronimo brings her star power to Abu Dhabi this weekend

Ahead of her Abu Dhabi concert on Thursday night, we take a look at the Filipina singer Sarah Geronimo’s extraordinary career.

 Fatema holds a picture of her son Nurul Karim as she poses for a photograph in front of her slum house in Savar. Fatema lost her son Nurul Karim and her daughter Arifa, who were working on the fifth floor of Rana Plaza when it collapsed on April 24, 2013. All photos Andrew Biraj / Reuters

These women know the real price of cheap high street fashion

Survivors of the world's worst garment factory accident, struggle to rebuild their lives from the rubble of the Rana Plaza collapse as Bangladesh prepares to mark the first anniversary of the disaster.

 Visitors look at the medieval inventor Al Jazari’s water-powered Elephant Clock. The clock is on show at the 1001 Inventions exhibition at Sharjah Expo Centre. Photos Antonie Robertson / The National

1001 Inventions: in praise of Islam’s gifts to the world

Down the centuries, from camera obscura to designing a sail that allowed early seafarers to tack into the wind, Muslim scientists have made many significant contributions to science. Rym Ghazal and Asmaa Al Hameli visit an exhibition in Sharjah that celebrates those contributions

 Mumbai Indians fans cheer they team on the opening match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2014 at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Earn cash back with the IPL cricket in the UAE

Dunia finance promotion allows cricket lovers to earn up to 6 per cent unlimited cash back on any spending they make on a day when an IPL match is played in the UAE.

 Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College students participate in the 2014 Innovation Challenge. Delores Johnson / The National

In pictures: the UAE Innovation Challenge 2014

The engineering competition brought together almost 100 students from across the country competing in teams to build the best unmanned aircraft.

 This comparison image shown on Reddit annotated the objects with vehicles from the movies.

Disney confirms that Star Wars: Episode 7 is filming in Abu Dhabi desert

Disney yesterday confirmed that the filming of Star Wars: Episode 7 is taking place in the desert in Abu Dhabi.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National