Government Lays More Mines in Western Mountains

HRW (Zintan) – Libyan government forces have placed at least three minefields containing antipersonnel and antivehicle landmines outside the village of al-Qawalish in the western Nafusa Mountains, Human Rights Watch said today.

A Type-72SP antivehicle mine, produced in China, found near a boy scout building west of al-Qawalish village in the Nafusa Mountains on July 6, 2011. © 2011 Sidney Kwiram/Human Rights Watch

“The government’s blatant disregard for the safety of its civilians is shameful,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “Landmines are a weapon that will claim civilian limbs and lives for years to come.”
Two of the minefields were laid near each other on a pair of dirt roads leading to a boy scout building known as al-Malayab, west of al-Qawalish (coordinates N 31˚ 58′ 50.79″ E 12˚ 40′ 32.23″ and N 31˚ 58′ 50.74″ E 12˚ 41′ 26.26″). The third minefield was laid along the main asphalt road to al-Qawalish just west of al-Malayab (coordinates N 31˚ 59′ 2.26″ E 12˚ 40′ 29.58″).

A rebel commander, Alejmi Ali Ahmed, with Type-72SP antivehicle mines, produced in China, and T-AB-1 antipersonnel mines, produced in Brazil, removed on July 6, 2011, from two minefields west of al-Qawalish village in the Nafusa Mountains. © 2011 Sidney Kwiram/Human Rights Watch

Government forces had apparently been positioned at the boy scout building outside al-Qawalish until rebels seized the area and the village in the early afternoon of July 6, 2011.

A rebel commander, Alejmi Ali Ahmed, 49, removing a Type-72SP antivehicle mine and T-AB-1 antipersonnel mines west of al-Qawalish village in the Nafusa Mountains on July 6, 2011. © 2011 Sidney Kwiram/Human Rights Watch

All three minefields are in areas with civilian traffic. Anti-government fighters have put up signs and markers to keep people from entering the areas.
Human Rights Watch observed anti-government fighters removing Brazilian-made T-AB-1 antipersonnel mines and Chinese-made Type-72SP antivehicle mines from the two dirt road sites on July 6. The antipersonnel mines had been placed atop the larger antivehicle mines.

By the end of July 7, deminers had cleared approximately 240 T-AB-1 antipersonnel mines and 46 Type-72SP antivehicle mines from the two sites, but more mines remained to be cleared.
Three rebel vehicles had struck mines on the dirt roads earlier on July 6, destroying the vehicles and wounding three people, two of whom were hospitalized.

The first vehicle that struck a mine, inspected by Human Rights Watch, had an artillery piece mounted on the back and carried ammunition. The second vehicle that came to provide assistance after the first was destroyed did not appear to carry weapons or ammunition. A deminer who spent the day at the dirt road sites told Human Rights Watch that a third vehicle hit a mine later on July 6.
Deminers had not begun work on the third site near the main road. When Human Rights Watch visited the site on July 7, a damaged vehicle that had apparently struck a mine lay by the road.
One T-AB-1 antipersonnel mine was lying exposed on the ground nearby.

Government forces have placed the T-AB-1 antipersonnel mines in at least one other location in the Nafusa Mountains. In mid-June Human Rights Watch documented the presence of more than 150 of the mines near the town of Zintan. The T-AB-1 antipersonnel mine has a low metal content and is therefore difficult to detect once placed.

On June 23 Brazil’s minister of external relations, Chancellor Antonio Patriota, condemned the use of antipersonnel mines “wherever they are used.” Brazil has opened an investigation into the transfer of the landmines to Libya. Brazil is a state party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and has not manufactured or exported antipersonnel landmines since 1989.

Human Rights Watch has also documented the government’s use of the Type-72SP antivehicle mines on the eastern outskirts of Ajdabiya in late March. In total, Human Rights Watch has confirmed government use of five types of landmines in seven separate locations in Libya.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the government to halt use of these weapons.

Libya is one of 37 nations that have not joined the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. A total of 156 nations are parties to the treaty, and another two have signed but not yet ratified.

The Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively bans the use, production, and transfer of all antipersonnel mines, requires destruction of stockpiles within four years and clearance of mined areas within 10 years, and calls for assistance to landmine victims.

Anti-government forces in the Nafusa Mountains should destroy all the mines they have removed or obtained from abandoned government depots, Human Rights Watch said. The de facto opposition authority in Libya, the National Transitional Council, formally pledged in April not to use antipersonnel and antivehicle landmines, and to destroy all landmines in its possession.

Source: Human Rights Watch

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19 Responses to Government Lays More Mines in Western Mountains

  1. francesca_fr says:

    THIS is what should be on the main TV news of every country!! Fairly easy to check, double and triple check, esp. as Human Rights Watch is a known and respected NGO. It is absolutely clear here that there is a major threat to civilian populations and that G régime doesn’t give a … about that

    • Richard From France says:

      yes this would be much more useful than exposing berlusconi playing the clown to attract attention, as usual.

    • Hadock says:

      Well, Libyan regime is using dirty tactics and use civil as shield as NATO avoid hitting them if it endanger civilian.

      China is selling illegal fragmentation munition and mines while NATO drop anti tank weapons.

      With all this one can only wonder why NATO is so harshly criticized

      • Richard From France says:

        because many people don’t like that we defend freedom. As they cannot say it openly, they use contorted speech instead.
        Some also lack of critical sense. They are used to accept whatever is said in newspapers as truth. So all the propaganda in Gaddhafi’s TV is effective after all, even if we know very well it is only lies

      • Richard From France says:

        Also many people (I see them in France) are still thinking as in the Cold War era (which was also the shameful Algeria war for us French). So they compare the US intervention with the Vietnam war…
        Or they are “left” wing, and think that Gaddhafi is their friend…
        etc etc

  2. Richard From France says:

    beware that some chinese anti-personnel mines have, scattered at random among ordinary-looking items, some which detonate when tilted. The intend is to kill the deminers.

  3. Fredy says:

    The G regime does not use dirtier tactics because they have depleted their options.

    Hadock how would you deal with the people responsible for giving the orders to use minefields if those weapons had already killed innocent civilians or rebels ?

    I would give them long jail sentences.

    For Maddafi and close associated I vote for the death sentence.

    I agree with you Richard regarding President Berlusconi being a show off. Did he lose the Presidential Elections in Italy ?

    What is the ICC going to say to the Libyans , hey take it easy with the Madman , his dirty friends and relatives ?

    Give them a job . What else ?
    This is not a world for the rights of the criminal upon the innocent. Is it Ocampo ?

    • Mr. Gross says:

      Death is an easy way out.

    • Richard From France says:

      About Berlusconi, I don’t know how he was elected. Logically, he should have been ousted, as everybody in Italy hates him. But he resurfaced as the winner of the last presidential elections, I don’t know how this happened.

    • Richard From France says:

      Whatever fate for kaddhafi and his relatives, he needs to be definitively neutralized. This means, at least, that he is not allowed to wander freely, or to speak or write publicly. The reason is that he is considered as many as a “thinker”, a kind of “philosopher”, and he could still have a considerable influence and create havoc, in Libya or elsewhere. Left free, he could even take the power in other countries, or take the lead in al-qaida or similar secret groups.

      I oppose death penalty, even in this case, for general ethics reasons. But I have a more practical one, not to kill kaddhafi: throwing him in a psychiatry hospital would be a much better message to all the psychopaths and tyrants of the world, than making him a martyr. Message would be “the game is finished, we understood your play and your purpose, and we are no longer fooled”.

      Many soldiers too engaged in barbaric acts, like shooting at peaceful civilians or putting land mines. This must be severely punished, with very long jail sentences, or life sentences.
      However much care must be taken (inquiries, courts hearing, organized and legal defense) not to condemn soldiers who were muddled or forced to do such acts against their will, under threat of death or retaliation on their families. We remember in France too, during Algeria war, many draftees were forced to take part to things like deportation of population, under threat of endless jail, or worse. However the most evil acts (torture, assassination) were entrusted only to willing ones, so they should have been condemned.

    • Richard From France says:

      Give a job to Kaddhafi? and what else? With all the money he stole, he earned a life retirement in an institution for sociopaths…

      Oh, after all, seeing him pulling a broom in the streets of Tripoli, under the eyes of all his victims, looks fun. But he may escape…

  4. why not use satellites to detect mines the same way they were supposedly used to find new ruins in Egypt, or was it Sudan.

    • Richard From France says:

      Mines are too small for this, I think. But there are other methods now.

  5. patriot says:

    Libya, Israel, USA, China, Russia, etc are non-signatory to the Ottawa Treaty (Mine Ban Treaty). I don’t see why so much noise is being created around this. Libyan army has clearly indicated areas that are mined as required by Geneva Convention.

    Why don’t you talk about the cluster bombs dropped by NATO?
    “Just the other day a child was admitted to hospital after picking up a live cluster bomb. She lost her hand,” said Dr Khaled Abufalghan, spokesperson for Misurata healthy committee. “The bombs have ribbons on them and are attractive to children.”

    Cluster munition ban became law on 1st August 2010.

    • Factscout says:

      Funny I remember someone else using Cluster bomb weaponry in the City… Gadaffi, how do we know it wasn’t one of his instead?

    • Change says:

      It’s not NATO dropping cluster bombs you moron, it’s the Gaddafi regime with their GRAD rockets carrying cluster munitions. Stop trying to twist the truth and go back and find the real source for the quote you mentioned.

      • patriot says:

        You are the ones who should stop twisting the truth. The news was embarassment to NATO after it was proved to them that had dropped the Cluster bombs.

        You don’t see this in the Western news anymore since it was NATO who did this.

  6. Fredy says:


    Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will leave office on 2013 when his term ends and will not run again because of his economy minister was investigated for corruption. ( Reuters ).

    Thank Goodness. It seems to this man is a Narcissist. One with questionable finances. That’s a serious issue.

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