Libyan Rebels Caught Smuggling Arms in Niger

Niger’s military is hunting for two vehicles involved in a clash with security forces last Sunday after a third, which was captured, was found to contain 640 kgs of explosives, 435 detonators, and 90,000 dollars in cash.

Officials believe the arms came from eastern Libya.

The skirmish between the army and what appears to have been Arab bandits happened north of the town of Arlit and left two people dead, one on each side.

One four-wheel drive vehicle containing, explosives, arms and money, was recovered. But two other vehicles managed to flee.

Niger authorities believe the captured arms came from the insurrection-hit areas of Libya and were intended for Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim).

The captured explosive, known as Semtex, is manufactured in the Czech Republic and was being transported in containers with Libyan markings.

For security services there is no doubt that these explosives were being smuggled out of Libya for Al Qaida, which operates in the Sahara and Sahel region.

Semtex, which is hard to detect, was used to blow up a Pan Am flight over the Socttish town of Lockerbie in 1988.

In the past, its main importer had been Libya, which is believed to have bought about 700 tons of it in the 1970s.

Since the uprising in Libya tons of Government weapons have fallen in the hands of rebel fighters, Niger, Mali and Mauritania have voiced concern over the large stocks of arms that  have fallen into the hands of the Libyan insurgents and are now being sold to Al-Qaida.