Almost 7,000 SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles from ousted Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi's arsenal have gone missing, a military official of the country's new leadership said on Saturday.
"Kadhafi's Libya bought about 20,000 SAM-7 missiles, Soviet- or Bulgarian-manufactured," General Mohammed Adia, in charge of armaments at the defence ministry, said at a symbolic ceremony to disable some of the stockpile.
"More than 14,000 of these missiles were used, destroyed or are now out of commission. Most of them were stockpiled in Zintan," southwest Libya, he said.
"About 5,000 of the SAM-7s are still missing ... Unfortunately, some of these missiles could have fallen into the wrong hands ... abroad," the general told reporters at a former arms depot of Kadhafi's forces in Benghazi.
He said Libya's National Transitional Council had found around 500 of the portable missiles.
The guidance and firing systems of 10 of the SAM-7s were neutralised with the use of hammers in front of journalists, raising to 170 the number of missiles destroyed to date, said Adia.
The United States has said it is working closely with Libya's new interim leaders to secure all arms stockpiles, amid concerns over weapons proliferation.
The proliferation of arms raided from Kadhafi's vast stores has been raising fears for Libya's future stability and that they could fall into the hands of radical groups like Al-Qaeda.
by Katherine Haddon
(c) 2011 AFP
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