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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 April 2019

Turkey to open joint investigation with Libya on smuggled arms

Ankara will take firm measures after complaints from Tripoli

Libya's unity government Prime Minister Fayez Al Sarraj (R) receives the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in the Libyan capital Tripoli on December 22, 2018. AFP
Libya's unity government Prime Minister Fayez Al Sarraj (R) receives the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in the Libyan capital Tripoli on December 22, 2018. AFP

Turkey is to open a joint investigation with Libya into a shipment on arms smuggled from the country which were seized at a port near Tripoli, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a visit to the war-torn North African nation.

The cargo contained 3,000 Turkish-made pistols, as well as some other pistols, hunting rifles and ammunition and a cargo of 2.5 million Turkish-made bullets were seized at the western port of Khoms, Benghazi's Benina airport customs services said on their official Facebook page.

Mr Cavusoglu said on Saturday that Ankara rejects "such action which does not represent the policy or approach of the Turkish state".

"We are starting an investigation to determine how the arms were loaded into containers and how they entered Libya," Mr Cavsoglu said during a press conference in Tripoli. He stressed that Ankara will take "firm measures".

The head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, Fayez Al Sarraj, expressed his "profound concern" in a statement after meeting Mr Cavusoglu.

Mr Al Sarraj demanded an explanation and said UN experts must investigate.

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The UN mission in Libya has condemned the shipment of arms to Libya as "extremely disconcerting".

Libya has been under a UN arms embargo since it plunged into chaos amid the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The country is divided between an internationally backed government based in Tripoli and a rival authority under military general Khalifa Haftar in the east.

Mr Haftar has accused Turkey and Qatar of militarily and financially backing his rivals.

Mr Cavusoglu accused unnamed Western and Arab countries of sending "tanks, missiles, and drones" to Libya, in apparent reference to alleged outside support for Mr Haftar.

Updated: December 23, 2018 02:50 PM

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