Weapons awash in Libya’s liberated capital
LIBYA: The crackle of celebratory gunfire still rings out
across the city at night, two months after Moamer Kadhafi’s fall, but
the wide diffusion of weapons poses a real danger for Libya’s liberated
With a gun slung over his shoulder, Abdelkarim Mahmud watches as two
diggers demolish a section of the six-kilometre (3.7 miles) wall that
surrounds the Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, Kadhafi’s former
Dressed in combat trousers, a T-shirt and flip-flops, the 19-year-old
says he was never trained to use the weapon, which he took from a dead
Kadhafi soldier in the town of Misrata in March, when he joined the
“I just took the gun and started shooting it,” he told AFP.
Weapons poured into Tripoli during the revolution, with the Kadhafi
regime handing out arms to its supporters and the rebels shipping in
guns from outside.
Officials say they have seen boys as young as 13 brandishing
Kalashnikov rifles in the middle of the night.
“There are tens of thousands of these weapons. It’s a big
challenge... The presence of weapons on such a wide scale definitely
raises concerns,” Osama al-Abed, the deputy chairman of the Tripoli
municipal council, told AFP.
“We are doing all it takes to organise and to make an inventory of
where the weapons are.
Some of them are small rifles, some of them are medium to heavy
machine guns,” he added.
The nature of the problem was starkly illustrated on Friday, when a
gunfight broke out in Abu Salim, a traditionally pro-Kadhafi
neighbourhood not far from Bab al-Aziziya, between supporters of the
ousted dictator and forces loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC).
At least three people were killed in the fighting, which spread to
other districts in Tripoli and prompted the authorities to mount a
clean-up operation that included an appeal to those harbouring weapons
to hand them in.
Haytem al-Amari, 25, a pro-NTC resident of Abu Salim says Kadhafi
loyalists are hiding guns everywhere.
“We know what happened on Friday is going to happen again and again,
until they bring the equipment to find and collect the guns. They are
hiding them everywhere, under the sand, behind walls, in their gardens,”
he said. AFP