Most looted missiles still in Libya--US official

Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:56pm GMT

"The bad news is that no one is certain what the exact number is that is outside government control and it will take some months of effort to come up with a reasonable number."


In the chaotic fighting to end Gaddafi's rule, local militias trying to overthrow him raided arms depots and took the weapons for themselves.

The militias are largely loyal to the Western-backed government now in power, but there are questions over how securely they are storing the weapons.

Security experts have said that MANPADS could be acquired by militants or smugglers and taken across Libya's porous southern borders into neighbouring Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Al Qaeda's north African branch, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is active in the Sahara desert, which straddles those countries. An AQIM commander has said his group exploited the Libya conflict to obtain weapons.

But Smith said shoulder-fired missiles, or their components, from Libyan stocks had so far not been found among arms shipments intercepted in the Sahara.

"We have not had much indication of MANPADS yet moving through the region," he said after talks with Algerian officials.   Continued...

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