At least nine armoured vehicles are being held by the Customs and Excise Department for investigation at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals, according to news agency FactWire.
Update: Video: Seized military vehicles belong to Singapore, used for training in Taiwan
The FactWire report said 12 armoured vehicles were found. Photographs provided by FactWire showed nine of them covered in blue or grey wraps, and located in an area surrounded by containers.
The other three armoured vehicles were not seen in the photographs and it remains unclear as to whether they were seized.
A photo of one unwrapped vehicle was also shared on Wednesday on a social media page for container terminal workers.
FactWire cited a source close to the investigation as saying that customs officers discovered the twelve vehicles when examining containers on Wednesday. The containers which held the vehicles also contained explosives.
The department suspected that it was a case of arms smuggling and seized the vehicles for investigation.
The source added that the department arranged for workers at the terminals to surround nine of the twelve vehicles with containers. It also ensured that officers stop people from getting close to the vehicles.
The agency also cited a source as saying that the twelve vehicles were found on a cargo ship from Kaohsiung, Taiwan to Singapore and it was passing through Hong Kong. There was no plan to offload or export the shipment when arriving in the Hong Kong terminals.
However, customs received tip-offs and launched an investigation. The origin of the vehicles, the identity of the owner, the content declaration, and the final destination remain unclear.
According to the Import and Export (Strategic Commodities) Regulations, armoured vehicles and tanks are listed as strategic commodities – all import and export must obtain licence issued by the government.
If a person contravenes or fails to comply with any condition imposed, they commit an offence and are liable to a fine of HK$500,000 and to imprisonment for two years.
Update: A previous version of this article stated that 12, as opposed to 9 vehicles had been seized.