Close to 2,000 weapons, which include assault rifles, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns have been discovered hidden under nets aboard a small fishing boat bound for Somalia, the Australian navy said.

The weapons were seized by an Australian warship, reportedly as part of international efforts to police the seas off Somalia.

The Australian Navy said it seized 1,989 AK-47 assault rifles, 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels and 20 mortar tubes, NBC reported.

The smuggling and illicit trade in arms and weapons remain a big issue in conflict areas. Pirates, terrorist organisations such as Al Shabaab and Boko Haram and non-state armed groups involved in rebel fighting have been trading in illegal arms for years.

The arms traffickers smuggle the weapons across borders and along the continent’s rivers and coasts. The porous and often poorly monitored borders facilitate the illicit transfer of weapons by arms traffickers.

The illicit trade in arms has far-reaching consequences from the well documented effects of the conflicts, resulting in injuries and deaths. There has also been a noted rise in criminal and terrorist activities.

There is a correlation between illicit trade in arms and rise in poaching across Africa. Illegal arms have been used to engage in poaching activities. Research has also revealed that some militant groups  engage in poaching to finance the supply of arms. In 2013, a report showed that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was engaging in elephant poaching for ivory to fund its activities.

Source: NBC