Libya and Turkey announced on Saturday opening a joint investigation to shed light on a recent weapons shipment sent from Turkey and seized at a port near Tripoli.
Thousands of Turkish-made pistols, hunting rifles, ammunitions arriving from Turkey, were captured by Libyan customs on Tuesday in Al-Khoms Al-Mujahida’s port, Benghazi’s Benina airport customs services said.
This seizure came the day after a cargo of 2.5 million Turkish-made bullets was revealed at the same port of Libya, which is already a divided country since the 2011 uprising against former toppled leader Muammar Qaddafi, with many insurgent groups battling the UN-backed government effectively in some areas.
The Libyan National Army, fighting insurgent groups, called on the United Nations Security Council to launch an international investigation to examine the user of those weapons in Libya, Army Spokesperson, brigadier-general Ahmed Al-Mismary, said in a statement.
“The ammunition in those shipments included more than 4.2 million bullets, enough to kill nearly 80 percent of the Libyan people, as well as pistols and rifles with their accessories, including silencers used for assassinations,” the statement read.
The issue was on the table during Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s visit to the country when a journalist asked him a question about the weapons in a press conference with Libyan Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya Fayez al-Sarraj.
Pro-Erdogan daily Yeni Safak, the newspaper, quoted Cavusoglu as saying: “Similar questions should be asked to countries sending heavy weapons including anti-aircraft and artillery batteries into Libya with the intent of dividing the country.”
“During his meeting with Cavusoglu, al-Sarraj expressed his grave concern towards the weapons shipment, highlighting the urgency of disclosing those behind it,” Al-Sarraj said in a statement.
The statement quoted Cavusoglu as saying: “The Turkish government rejects those behaviours which do not represent the Turkish policy.” Both parties agreed to launch a joint investigation into the matter, according to the statement.
The oil-rich country has still been in the grip of chaos, nearly eight years after a NATO-backed uprising against Qaddafi’s leadership.
Rival governments and military factions based in the east and west of the country cause political instability which also lead to a deep economic crisis.
Transporting weapons to Libya is prohibited by a United Nations arms embargo imposed in 2011. The inflow of weapons, however, into the civil-war torn country, has never ended.
The Greek coastguard seized the Bolivian-flagged vessel Haddad 1 off the island of Crete in 2015. The cargo vessel, carrying almost 500 thousand of Turkish made rounds of ammunition and 5 thousand rifles, was heading to an Islamist-controlled port in Libya, Greek officials said.
The illicit cargo is believed to have been loaded in Iskenderun, a southern city of Turkey and 50km from the Syrian border, according to Greek coastguard reports.