Gaddafi forces 'intercept arms from Qatar'

Government spokesman says two boats carrying weapons for rebels seized from west of Tripoli.

    The 'seized' weapons included about 100 Belgian-made rifles as well as thousands of rounds of ammunition [EPA]

    Libyan officials are claiming to have intercepted two boats carrying a cache of weapons from Qatar, reportedly intended for rebels fighting forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

    On Monday, Moussa Ibrahim, a government spokesman, said 11 rebels were captured from the boats close to shore near the town of Janzour, just west of Tripoli.

    "In the early hours of this morning around 4 o'clock our security forces intercepted the submission of many weapons from a ship that raises the Tunisian flag to two small Libyan boats with some Libyan rebels on board the boats," he said.

    "I was told that this was the load of one major container, so this would be something like one out of ten or something like that," Ibrahim added.

    Foreign reporters were later taken to Tripoli's port where they were shown a cache of rifles and ammunition displayed in a tent, but not the captured boats.


    Al Jazeera's Sue Turton reports on rebels' radio war against Gaddafi troops

    The weapons included about 100 Belgian-made FN assault rifles, as well as thousands of rounds of ammunition of the same calibre used in the guns.

    Several of the ammunition boxes were marked in English as coming from the armed forces of Qatar.

    Qatar has emerged as one of the main supporters of the rebels. And its involvement in the country's civil war has enraged Libyan officials.

    Mahmoud Jibril, of Libya's Transitional National Council, said on Thursday that foreign deliveries of military hardware would give the rebels a chance to win the battle against Gaddafi quickly and with the least amount of blood spilt.

    French supplies

    Colonel Thierry Burkhard, French military spokesman, said last week that France had airlifted weapons to Libyan civilians in a mountain region south of Tripoli.

    The deliveries of guns, rocket-propelled grenades and munitions took place in early June in the western Nafusa mountains, when Gaddafi's troops had encircled civilians.

    China and Russia have both questioned whether the supplying of weapons breached the terms of the United Nations Security Council resolution that authorises international action in Libya.

    Britain's government has insisted that the French decision to supply weapons fell within the terms of the UN resolutions.

    Last week, William Hague, British foreign secretary, announced that the UK was sending 5000 sets of body armour, 6,650 uniforms, 5000 high-visibility vests and communications equipment, to police officers in rebel-held areas.

    The rebels have been battling Gaddafi's forces since February in a bid to end his more than four decades long rule.

    They swiftly managed to secure a number of military arms depots, and have turned those weapons on forces still loyal to the Libyan leader.

    The conflict has turned into a civil war, with the rebels now controlling much of the eastern third of Libya.

    They also hold pockets in the west, including the vital port city of Misurata, about 200km from Tripoli, and a number of mountain towns southwest of the capital.

    But they say that they are ill-equipped and are in dire need of fresh supplies to break the current stalemate in fighting and drive out Gaddafi from power.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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