Cluster Bombs Used in Libya: Reports

Cluster Bombs
Cluster Bombs

Even as the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) is making efforts to put an end to the crisis in the North African nation, new reports surface about the use of lethal cluster bombs in Libya.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that remnants of RBK-250 PTAB 2.5M cluster bombs, which are banned, were found at Bin Jawad in February 2015 and at Sirte in March.

The good condition of the paint on the bomb casings and lack of extensive weathering indicated that the remnants had not been exposed to the environment for long and were from a recent attack.

The Libyan Air Force recently bombed both locations, but denied using cluster munitions. It is not possible to determine responsibility on the basis of available evidence, says HRW.

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A cluster munition, or a cluster bomb, is a bomb full of explosive submunitions, which pose a continuous fatal threat to people in the area where they are dropped.

“The new evidence of cluster munitions use in Libya is highly disturbing,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the Cluster Munitions Coalition. “Libyan authorities should investigate these incidents and make sure its forces don’t use cluster munitions.”

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Hostilities since May 2014 have left Libya with rival governments: an internationally recognized government based in the east, and a self-proclaimed government in Tripoli backed by an alliance of militias known as Libya Dawn that controls much of western Libya. Both claim legitimacy as the sole political authority, but neither has been able to exert full control nationally, according to HRW.

In a statement, UNSMIL confirmed that Libyan parties involved in the UN-facilitated process had concluded the latest round of three-day talks in Skhirat, Morocco, on 7 March in an effort to address the formation of a government of national unity.

At the same time, noted the Mission, efforts to depart from the pre-established agenda were discouraged as all parties prepare for a resumption of the discussions after they have had the opportunity to brief and consult their respective constituencies on the latest deliberations.

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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Rakesh Raman