ICRC clearing Libya of unexploded ordnance

Nov. 4, 2011 at 1:36 PM
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SIRTE, Libya, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Unidentified bodies and unexploded ordnance are areas of concern that linger in post-war Libya, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

NATO forces ended Operation Unified Protector at midnight Monday, less than two weeks after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi died after falling into rebel custody near his hometown of Sirte.

The ICRC said explosive remnants of war, particularly in Sirte, create a serious threat to the civilian population.

"There have already been several confirmed casualties in Sirte, including an 8-year-old girl who lost her arm while playing with an explosive device," Guy Marot, an ICRC expert, said in a statement. "Our immediate goal is to ensure that further deaths and injuries among civilians are kept to an absolute minimum."

The ICRC said it is removing the physical threat posed by more than 1,000 warheads and other weapons throughout Libya since March.

Reports from journalists with French newspaper France 24 suggested heavy weaponry lost during the Libyan war was in the hands of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The report said Mauritanian officials say AQIM now has surface-to-air missiles in its possession that can down a commercial airliner.

The ICRC said it was gearing up for an operation in Sirte next week to clear out remaining unexploded munitions.

Hundreds of unidentified bodies, meanwhile, are being buried at temporary locations in Sirte by Libyan Red Crescent volunteers.

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