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Gaddafi’s arms threaten Africa from the grave

Some arms are feared to have been sent to Darfur rebels, al Qaeda in North Africa and other militants further afield.



New York: Muammar Gaddafi`s arms stockpiles could remain a threat long after his death, as some are feared to have been sent to Darfur rebels, al Qaeda in North Africa and other militants further afield.

There is "very serious concern" that weapons, ranging from shoulder-fired missiles to machine guns and ammunition, may have crossed Libya`s borders into neighbouring countries, UN envoy to Libya Ian Martin said.

Assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns were all taken from Gaddafi armouries and supply depots by the rebels who ousted him.

Much has already passed across Libya`s porous borders, diplomats and experts say.

One western intelligence report has spoken of truckloads of guns passing through Sudan`s war-stricken Darfur region en route to groups in the restive South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

"We cannot exclude the possibility that some weapons have crossed into Darfur from Libya," Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, Sudan`s UN envoy, said.

Other African states have expressed similar concerns. "What is sure is that the arms have gone into Chad, Mali and Niger," Mauritania`s Foreign Minister Hamadi Ould Hamal said at the UN headquarters in New York.

Niger`s President Mahamadou Issoufou held talks with the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) leaders about the arms on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month.

Issoufou said the weapons are "spread across the Sahel-Sahara region and could fall into the hands of terrorists”.

Gaddafi`s son Saadi, three generals and a former security services chief are among 32 associates of the slain dictator who have taken refuge in Niger.

Military chiefs and diplomats from Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and European nations France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain held their own recent meeting on the arms, a diplomatic source said.

The talks focused on how al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) could get the Libya arms. European governments are worried that the machine guns and missiles could be used on their own territory.

PTI

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