Security at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow was stunned to discover a mortar shell in the luggage of a US Embassy employee heading to New York. The Foreign Ministry said the incident was a “provocation” and demanded explanations.
The eyebrow-raising discovery of “an object resembling a mortar shell with a fuse” was made on Saturday morning. The man was stopped at the first baggage checking point at the entrance to Sheremetyevo’s Terminal D and a bomb squad was immediately called in.
The specialists could breath a sigh of relief, however, as it emerged that the shell had no explosive compound inside. Only small traces of a blasting agent remained, officials confirmed.
Making the situation even more bizarre, the person who tried to smuggle the forbidden cargo has been identified as an employee of the US Embassy in Moscow, who was traveling to New York.
Trying to cool things down, the US citizen explained that he bought an empty mortar shell without an explosive compound for his "private collection,” according to the Russian side. His immediate problems with law enforcement apparently ended there as he was allowed to leave.
Though missing his flight due to the ordeal, the American still received assistance from airport staff in obtaining a ticket for the next US-bound plane. Sadly enough for the man, his collection will be deprived of the new item as he had to leave the shell back in Moscow.
Even though the object seems to have posed no imminent threat, the move did not sit well with the Russian Foreign Ministry, which decried the incident as a planned “provocation” by the US side.
Earlier this week, a similarly bizarre incident occurred at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Pennsylvania, when a disassembled RPG was discovered in the luggage of a man from Florida.
The owner of the weapon was surprised to learn that he was doing something illegal. Luckily, the rocket launcher was not in working order and a shell that came with it turned out to be a replica.