US-Libyan Experts Dispose of 5,000 Surface-to-Air Missiles

Agence France Presse (AFP)13.12.2011 Libya
US-Libyan Experts Dispose of 5,000 Surface-to-Air Missiles

US-Libyan Experts Dispose of 5,000 Surface-to-Air Missiles

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Hundreds of pounds of explosives in Libya stockpiled during the years of the Muammar Qaddafi-led regime have been disposed of by a team of U.S. and Libyan weapons experts.
The now-buried weapons include about 5,000 surface-to-air missiles and some 1,300 pounds (600 kilograms) of ordnance.

Qaddafi had a stockpile of 20,000 shoulder-fired missiles before the revolt against him broke out in February, AFP news agency reported.

“We have identified, disbanded and secured more than 5,000 MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense Systems), while thousands more have been destroyed during NATO bombing,” Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State for Political & Military Affairs told a group of reporters.

“We are working side by side with the National Transitional Council (NTC) to reduce the threat of these loose weapons,” Shapiro said after talks in Tripoli with officials from the ruling NTC, the Interior and Defense Ministries.

There is a “serious concern about the threat posed by MANPADS to civil aviation. However, our efforts with the NTC to reduce these threats are already paying off.”

Shapiro said contractors on the ground were still in the process of assessing how many missiles are still missing.

A large amount of weapons went missing during Libya’s civil war which erupted in February and resulted in the capture and subsequent killing of Muammar Qaddafi by opposition fighters in October.

The missing weapons have fueled fears that the material may have fallen into the wrong hands.

Libya, under Qaddafi, was reportedly the country with the biggest stock of MANPADS outside of nations that produce these weapons. The missiles, mainly SAM-7, were acquired in the 1970s and 1980s.

Shapiro said the United States has already spent US$ 6 million in its efforts to secure these weapons.


Source: AFP; Al Arabiya; Photo: Reuters



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