Portuguese president speaks out over stolen weapons arsenal

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The Tancos military base in PortugalThe burglary apparently took place at night in an area where CCTV had been broken for some time

Days after weapons and explosives were taken from a military warehouse in Portugal, the scale of the theft is becoming clear.

A Spanish website has revealed an extensive list of grenades, ammunition and explosives seized from the Tancos site, north-east of Lisbon.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has called for a no-holds-barred investigation into the raid.

Links to arms thefts in other Nato states should be looked at, he added.

There was no mention of which other countries he had in mind.

The theft was discovered on 28 June and details were passed on to Portugal’s Nato allies.

The burglary is thought to have taken place at night at a part of the security perimeter where closed-circuit cameras had been broken for over two years.

The Portuguese defence minister initially described the raid as “serious” but the size of the missing arsenal only emerged when El Español (in Spanish) published what it said was a list of the stolen armaments. Among the weapons taken were:

1,450 9mm ammunition cartridges

150 hand grenades

44 anti-tank grenades

18 tear gas grenades

102 explosive charges

264 pieces of plastic explosive

El Español said it had seen the list after it was handed to Spain’s anti-terror forces.

President de Sousa said a far-reaching investigation should look into the “facts and responsibilities” and called for measures to be taken to prevent such a theft “of increasing seriousness” from happening again.

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Five military commanders have been suspended while an internal investigation takes place, the BBC’s Lisbon correspondent reports.

There was no indication they were directly involved in the raid, chief of staff Gen Frederico Rovisco Duarte said on Sunday. However, their units were thought to be in charge of securing and monitoring the storage area.

The Tancos military base in PortugalMilitary figures are said to be looking into whether the thieves acted on inside information

Shots were fired close to Tancos military base which is hope to a engineering regiment late on Sunday night. No-one was hurt. The regiment’s commander was one of the five individuals suspended.

A Nato spokesman made no comment on the theft, referring the BBC to the Portuguese authorities.

Senior military figures were reportedly investigating whether the thieves had acted on inside information. The armed forces’ top brass were due to meet on Monday to discuss the case.

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