Australian border protection authorities will give air cargo shipments that have originated or transited through the Middle East greater scrutiny after a number of parcel bombs were intercepted on cargo flights operating from ports in the Middle East.
The increased security screening came after a number of parcels with explosives packed into printers for delivery to addresses in the US and UK were found on board freighters which had originated from the Middle East during last week. Media reports claim that the packages originated from Yemen, with many transiting through ports such as Doha and Abu Dhabi.
“There is no information indicating Australia is a target,” said Transport Minister Anthony Albanese. “However, as a precaution, the Office of Transport Security has issued a direction that all inbound cargo originating from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha must now be screened – using either x-ray or explosive trace detection technology – before being sent onto a third country or destinations within Australia.”
The increased security comes after the Australian government announced in February a $54 million plan to strengthen air cargo security at selected airports. In particular, the funds will be used to install X-ray screening and explosive trace detection technology, as well as setting up a regulated shipper program.