x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Al Mabhouh hit squad suspects now number 15

Irish authorities confirm two more of its passports had been forged, while total number of UK passports believed to have been used in the plot is now eight.

ABU DHABI // The number of suspected assassins believed to have taken part in the killing of Mahmoud al Mabhouh climbed to 15 yesterday as Irish authorities confirmed two more of its passports had been forged. The UAE informed the Irish government on Thursday that two further suspects had travelled on its documents, said Derek Lambe, a spokesman for the Irish department of foreign affairs.

"We've now had the details of five [passports] in total," he said, adding that, like the earlier documents, the passport numbers were genuine while the names and photographs were fake. Details of at least two more British passports involved were released on Monday, bringing the total number of UK passports believed to have been used in the plot to eight. A spokeswoman for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office declined to provide further details.

In addition to the 15 people thought to have travelled to Dubai to carry out the hit, several from overseas have been detained. Two Palestinians were extradited from Jordan to the UAE in connection with the incident, and a Hamas official in Syria is reportedly being interrogated about his involvement. "We are continuing to work closely with the UAE authorities and our EU partners to establish the facts about this case," Mr Lambe said.

European Union foreign ministers strongly condemned the use of European passports in the assassination on Monday and the countries whose documents were misused Britain, France, Germany and Ireland have demanded an explanation from Israel. Meanwhile, the Jurists' Association, an Emirati non-governmental organisation made up primarily of lawyers, issued a statement condemning Israel for violating "the security, welfare, sovereignty, safety and economy of the UAE".

The organisation alleged that the Israeli government was responsible for the murder, saying that it could not have been carried out without its "prior approval". lmorris@thenational.ae