Friday, April 29, 2005
Security has been tightened at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr after an armed gang raided a vessel carrying Australian wheat, shipping industry sources said on Thursday. The ship, one of three bringing in wheat and delayed by Iraqi authorities investigating alleged cargo contamination, was raided by three armed men on April 22, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said. Crew members were assaulted and robbed of their cash and other possessions. Local shipping agents Gulf Agency Company said security had been bolstered after the attack. The three cargoes are part of a large consignment from Australian wheat exporter AWB Ltd
. Iraq complained last month that Australian wheat was overpriced and that shipments were contaminated with iron dust. AWB has rejected both claims. Security was stepped up early last year at Iraq's southern Basra oil terminal after al Qaeda's al-Zarqawi group carried out a suicide boat attack at the terminal.