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Turkey in new arms trafficking row after Nigeria weapons report

TURKEY found itself at the centre of a new arms trafficking scandal today after a major study found weapons manufactured there are being used in a deadly conflict in Nigeria.

Investigators from the Conflict Armament Research (Car) group spent three years examining hundreds of weapons and ammunition in Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara in the north of the country.

The area has been plagued by inter-communal violence with clashes between farmers and semi-nomadic herdsmen.

It has also seen attacks by jihadist groups keen to exploit an increasingly volatile situation.

A report seen by the Morning Star revealed that large numbers of the deadly weapons, including semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns were made in Turkey.

Car claimed that several thousand of the weapons were shipped in containers from Istanbul to Lagos in 2017 as part of a major organised trafficking network.

The data set of weapons also included assault rifles manufactured in Iraq in 1987 of a type used mainly by jihadist groups in attacks on security forces in the region.

While Car insisted that it does not indicate that the farming groups are linked with the terrorist factions, it does point to them obtaining the weapons from the same sources.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is becoming increasingly seen as the world’s leading supporter of jihadist groups accused of fuelling deadly conflicts.

Most recently the Turkish government sent thousands of jihadist fighters from Syria to the aid of the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Libya.

Turkish intelligence operatives have also been accused of taking jihadists across the border into Syria where they have been engaged in fighting against Kurdish forces as part of Ankara’s illegal invasion and occupation.

On the domestic front Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was accused by a European Union intelligence agency of commissioning an Isis bomb attack in October 2016 which killed more than 100 people at a peace rally in Ankara.

In November last year he was accused of shipping arms to the Boko Haram jihadist group in Nigeria via Turkish Airlines.

An audio recording purporting to be former Turkish Airlines executive Mehmet Karatas was leaked in which he told Mr Erdogan’s adviser Mustafa Varank that he felt guilty over his role in transferring the weapons.

The herder-farmer conflicts are said to have killed more people than Boko Haram attacks in the region.

But there has been an escalation of Islamist attacks with groups affiliated to Isis and al-Qaida launching a wave of deadly assaults in Nigeria, Niger, Mail and Burkina Faso.

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