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UN Panel: Libyan Weapons Spread At Alarming Rate

By EDITH M. LEDERER

UNITED NATIONS (AP) â¿¿ Libyan weapons are spreading at "an alarming rate" to new territory in west Africa and the eastern Mediterranean including Syria and the Gaza Strip where they are fueling conflicts and increasing the arsenals of armed groups and terrorists, a U.N. panel said.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Tuesday, the panel said cases of illicit transfers from Libya in violation of a U.N. arms embargo that have been proven and are still under investigation involve more than 12 countries and include heavy and light weapons such as portable air defense systems, explosives, mines, and small arms and ammunition.

Since the uprising that ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, the panel said, "Libya has over the past two years become a significant and attractive source of weaponry in the region."

It said civilians and militias remain in control of most weapons in Libya, adding that "the lack of an effective security system remains one of the primary obstacles to securing military materiel and controlling the borders."

"In the past 12 months, the proliferation of weapons from Libya has continued at a worrying rate and has spread into new territory: West Africa, the Levant and, potentially, even the Horn of Africa," the panel said. "Illicit flows from the country are fueling existing conflicts in Africa and the Levant and enriching the arsenals of a range of non-state actors, including terrorist groups."

The five-member expert panel made 28 visits to 15 countries in Africa, Europe and the Middle East including 10 visits to Libya. The 94-page report details arms trafficking cases that violate the embargo imposed after the 2011 uprising began as well as efforts to track down the financial assets of individuals and companies linked to Gadhafi and his regime that are on the U.N. blacklist.

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