Libya says intercepts rebel arms boats

2011-07-05 07:44
Tripoli - Libya's government said on Monday that its forces have intercepted two boats in waters west of Tripoli loaded with Qatari weapons bound for rebels fighting to oust Muammar Gaddafi.

"After the French arms air-dropped to the rebellion, we are witnessing a new form of arms shipments by sea," Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaaim told reporters.

"We denounce these deliveries because their aim is to provoke clashes between Libyans and chaos in the country.

"We have repeatedly warned the West that these weapons could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda," Kaaim said without elaborating.

Government spokesperson Mussa Ibrahim said the two boats were intercepted at about 02:00 GMT on Monday after loading their cargo from a Tunisian-flagged vessel and as they headed for Zanzur, some 30km from Tripoli.

Ibrahim told journalists taken to a port near Tripoli that 11 rebels were arrested, among them two officers.

The reporters were not shown either the boats or their crews, but they were shown items from the cargo, including weapons, explosives and ammunition in cases indicating they were from Qatar.

Ibrahim said the weapons were "of Pakistani manufacture" and had been destined for the armed forces of Qatar in the Gulf.

Qatar was the first nation to recognise the rebel National Transitional Council in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Libya's second city.

France admitted on Thursday it has been delivering arms to Berber rebels in the Nafusa Mountains southwest of Tripoli, insisting they were only meant to defend peaceful civilians from Gaddafi’s forces.

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