Armoured vehicles belonging to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), which were bound for Singapore after being used for overseas training, have been seized by Hong Kong Customs at a port in the city.
Nine vehicles were seized, Hong Kong media reported.
The military vehicles were reportedly being shipped from Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan to Singapore in 12 containers, but it is not known why the ship carrying the containers had stopped by Hong Kong.
Responding to media queries yesterday, Singapore's Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said the Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICVs) and associated equipment used by the SAF overseas were "delayed at Hong Kong's Kwai Chung Container Terminal, due to a request for routine inspections by the Hong Kong Customs authorities".
Mindef did not say how many armoured vehicles were seized, but added that there was no ammunition on board.
"The Terrex ICVs were used by the Singapore Armed Forces in routine overseas training and shipped back via commercial means as with previous exercises," it said.
It added: "Singapore authorities are providing relevant assistance to the Hong Kong Customs and expect the shipment to return to Singapore expeditiously."
A spokesman for Hong Kong's Customs and Excise Department told The Straits Times that "suspected controlled items" were found on board the vessel during a search.
Under Hong Kong regulations, controlled items can include firearms and ammunition, medicine or radioactive substances.
Hong Kong TV footage and photographs in Hong Kong media showed nine vehicles covered with tarpaulin and parked at Kwai Chung terminal.
The Customs and Excise Department spokesman said the items had to be unloaded from the vessel as part of ongoing investigations.
"Customs officers will take appropriate follow-up actions on the items," she added.
She declined to say if the receiver of the items has been contacted or whether the sender or owner had applied for a valid licence for the controlled items.
Under Hong Kong regulations, a licence is not required for prohibited items which are transiting through Hong Kong and remain "at all times" on the transportation vessels.
But a valid export authorisation or proof of transshipment will still be required for certain items used in relation with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in transit through Hong Kong, said the spokesman.
Anyone who flouts the law can be fined HK$500,000 (S$92,300) and jailed for two years.
The SAF conducts overseas training in a dozen or so countries, including the United States, Australia, Germany and India.
It usually hires commercial shippers to transport military equipment to and from Singapore.
The Terrex ICV, Singapore's latest armoured infantry vehicle, provides foot soldiers with added cover and speed in the battlefield.
The Singapore-made eight-wheelers also give soldiers updates of enemy and friendly troop positions in timings close to real time.