Hundreds of missiles go missing from Gaddafi’s abandoned arms dumps


Kim Sengupta
The Independent
September 8, 2011

The long metal crates strewn on the grounds of the warehouse were empty. Hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, craved by terrorist groups and “rogue states”, had disappeared in the past few days, looted from one of Libya’s overflowing arms dumps.

Among the missiles taken away were 480 Russian-built SA-24s, designed for use against modern warplanes, which the US had been attempting to block from falling into Iranian hands, and the older SA-7s and 9s, capable of bringing down commercial airliners, which al-Qa’ida has been striving to obtain.

As Libya’s bloody civil war reaches its conclusion, myriad bunkers and barracks containing the regime’s weaponry, from Kalashnikovs to missiles, armoured cars and tanks, have been left unguarded, many to be stripped bare by militia fighters and the public.

The numbers involved are far larger than the caches that armed the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. And in Libya there are even fewer guards at these sites. Unlike those two fronts of the “war on terror”, there are no foreign troops present in Libya, and the opposition forming the new government has its resources tied up attempting to subdue the remaining loyalist strongholds and repairing infrastructure to safeguard the arsenals.

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