Weapons stockpiles still in Libya – UN
International inspectors have to visit hundreds of suspected weapons stockpiles in Libya amid growing fears that huge numbers of shoulder-fired missiles have been looted, a UN envoy said yesterday.
Ian Martin, head of the UN mission in Libya, also told a Security Council meeting that new previously undeclared sites for storing chemical weapons had been uncovered since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s government.
World powers have raised fears that militant groups in neighbouring countries have obtained Colonel Gaddafi’s weapons and that the arms could fall into the hands of Al-Qaeda followers.
Mr Martin told the 15-member Security Council that Gaddafi’s regime had “accumulated the largest known stockpile of anti-aircraft missiles,” adding “thousands were destroyed during Nato operations. But I have to report to you our increasing concerns over the looting and likely proliferation of MANPADS,” or Man-Portable Air Defence Systems. He said munitions and large numbers of mines had also been looted.
The surface-to-air missiles can be used against civilian jets and other ordnance can easily be converted into car bombs and roadside explosives, according to experts.
Nuclear and chemical weapons materials are mainly controlled by National Transitional Council forces.
Meanwhile Fadi El Abdallah, a spokesman for the International Criminal Court (ICC), said yesterday Niger has an obligation to co-operate in bringing to justice Libyan fugitives Seif al-Islam and Abdullah al-Senussi, who are both wanted by the ICC. But he slapped down media reports suggesting either man wanted to hand himself over to the ICC, saying he had “no information or confirmation.”
The Libyan leader’s son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam was on Tuesday poised to cross into Niger along with Senussi, his father’s ex-intelligence chief, a Tuareg official said.
The two are the most wanted fugitives from the slain despot’s ousted circle and are wanted by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity, committed after the start of the uprising against Gaddafi’s regime in mid-February. The ICC issued arrest warrants against the three on June 27.
Both are widely expected to seek refuge in Niger following Gaddafi’s death last week.
Libya’s southern neighbour, which for years was one of the west African countries that benefited most from Gaddafi’s largesse, is already sheltering dozens of former regime officials, including another of Gaddafi’s sons.