Italy police find 800 Belgium-bound shotguns

UPDATED: Police have seized 800 shotguns destined for Belgium from Turkey at the northeastern port of Trieste.

Italy police find 800 Belgium-bound shotguns
The 800 rifles were found in a lorry bound for Belgium. Photo: Guardia di Finanza Trieste

Italy’s finance police said in a statement on Thursday that the weapons were found in a lorry with Dutch number plates as it crossed the border on Tuesday.

They said the lorry was headed to Belgium via Germany and the Netherlands.

Although customs rules were not violated, the Turkish lorry driver did not have licences for the pump-action Winchestor SXP guns, which were found packed in cardboard boxes.

A spokesman for Trieste police told The Local that the driver is not suspected of any wrongdoing but that a legal representative of the Turkish company which manufacturers the weapons has been reported.

Authorities in Belgium have been notified, the spokesman added.

“We’re in the process of exchanging information with Belgian authorities,” he said.

“At the moment, there are no more details to share. We don’t know what the objective for the arms' was – we are working on finding this out.”

Italy has “significantly” tightened security checks at its borders and airports in the wake of the Paris attacks earlier this month, in which 130 people died, he added.

Brussels was also put on its highest terror alert (level four) last weekend amid warnings of a “serious and imminent” threat of attack. The alert was lowered to level three on Friday.


Runner dies in Italy-to-France ultra marathon

A runner taking part in an ultra-marathon in the Alps has died during the race after a fatal fall on a high-altitude mountain path, emergency services told AFP on Wednesday.

Runner dies in Italy-to-France ultra marathon
The race traverses Mont Blanc. Illustration photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

The 35-year-old from the Czech Republic was taking part in a warm-up event ahead of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a famed endurance event that takes place every year around western Europe’s highest peak.

The man fell during the night after setting off with more than 1,000 other runners from the Italian ski resort of Courmayeur on Tuesday afternoon along the 145-kilometre course of the TDS race to Chamonix in France.

Emergency services were alerted after midnight on Wednesday and flew in a helicopter to the scene of the accident in the Bourg-Saint-Maurice district, but they were unable to revive him, local police commander Patrice Ribes told AFP.

Organisers of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, which takes places on Friday, said it was the first death in one of their events since their start in 2003.

Elsewhere in the French Alps on Wednesday, a 60-year-old climber died in the Isère region after suffering a fall of 30 metres.