Peaceniks damage Bofors weapons meant for export to India

October 18th, 2008 - 11:18 am ICT by IANS  

Karlskoga/Stockholm, Oct 18 (IANS) Four Swedish peace activists penetrated the fortress-like security at two facilities of ordnance company Bofors in southern Sweden and sought to sabotage the piled up supplies destined for export to India.The activists entered the Karlskoga and Eskilstuna facilities of Bofors Thursday night and claimed to have damaged grenade launchers of the Carl Gustaf brand meant for supply to India.

“The activists got into our workshop where Carl Gustaf grenade-launchers as well as the spare parts that make up Bofors-UAE’s continuous ongoing refurbishment of the Indian armed forces’ requirements are manufactured,” Christer Heneback, information chief for BAE Systems Bofors, told IANS in Karlskoga.

“However,” continued Heneback, “I must confess that the damage done was more to our pride than our goods. That, despite the most ultra-sophisticated alarms systems that Bofors has in place, four civilians could effect entry right into our innermost work and storage places with such relative ease. But this will in no way detrimentally influence our Indian order.”

“All the four activists were apprehended within a very short period by the company’s own security guards and arrested by the police. They were charged with unlawful entry, extensive material damage and crime against the law,” said Svante Melin, criminal commissioner with the county police criminal branch in Eskilstuna.

“There has been considerable damage inside the factories but its extent has not yet been estimated.”

Police were informed after midnight about a break-in at the Saab Bofors Dynamics weapons factory.

“A 26-year-old woman and a 35-year-old man entered the factory area by cutting a hole in the steel fences,” said Svante Melin.

Maja Backlund, spokesperson for OFOG - the group that assumed responsibility for the action - told IANS: “Civil disobedience and action are most vital parts of democratic development. Our colleagues who breached the Saab Bofors Dynamics factory managed to damage 25 grenade launchers of the Carl Gustaf brand that are in extensive use in Kashmir and other war zones in India.”

Lasse Jonsson, spokesperson for Saab AB, said: “They have scrapped a quantity of weapons’ spare parts that awaited export. Only after the police investigation has been completed will we be able to calculate the exact extent of the damage caused.”

According to OFOG: “In Karlskoga our other two activists, a 24-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man went straight for the Indian order’s jugular. Before they could be neutralised, they had succeeded in inflicting visible damage on several field howitzers 77B.”

Before being apprehended by security, the duo had managed to roll out and fix a poster on a door, with the message: “In this factory are manufactured weapons that are used to wage wars - disarmament is underway.”

India has emerged as the biggest ever single client for Bofors products: “The Indian army, thus far this year, has ordered spare parts worth over 800 million Swedish Kronor from BAE Systems Bofors,” said Heneback.

“The order is a factor in the maintenance of the 100 howitzers that India purchased from Bofors in 1986. Before the year is out we confidently expect the worth of the order to cross a billion SEK. That is really good for us,” he added.

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