GENEVA- Switzerland announced that authorities are investigating into information published by Sonntags Zeitung newspaper about hand grenades used by armed terrorist groups in Syria.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Swiss newspaper Sonntags Zeitung published a picture of a hand grenade produced by Swiss weapons manufacturer RUAG which it said had been taken in the Syrian town of Marea last month, despite the fact that Switzerland stopped arms exports to Syria in 1998.
AFP quoted sources at the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs as saying in a statement Wednesday "the Government of Switzerland learned about the clarifications of the Federal Department for Economy about the Swiss hand grenades that might have been bought and used in Syria."
Switzerland also said it was freezing arms exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after a media report said a Swiss-made hand grenade originally shipped to the Gulf state had been found in Syria.
Initial findings suggested the grenade had been part of a RUAG shipment of 225,162 grenades sent to the UAE in 2003, the Swiss government said.
The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) is therefore tentatively freezing all pending applications for arms exports to the UAE and demanding the return of licenses which have already been issued but not yet used, the Swiss government said in a statement.
The UAE government has not commented on the matter yet.
The Swiss government said it will make further inquiries because the circumstances in the case remain unclear.
"At present, there is no evidence that Swiss hand grenades have found their way to Syria. Inquiries are ongoing however," the government said.