Abandoned weapons that were once part of toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi’s arsenal pose an ongoing and serious threat to civilians in Libya, warned a report published by Harvard University on Thursday
Times Live August 2, 2012
“These weapons may have been abandoned, but their ability to harm civilians remains intact,” said Bonnie Docherty, leader of the research team sent to Libya by Harvard Law School and partner organisation CIVIC.
Weapons left behind after last year’s conflict range from bullets and mortars to torpedoes and surface-to-air missiles, creating an “explosive situation” in a country with a weak central government, the report said.
“The sheer scale of weapons here is shocking,” co-author Nicolette Boehland told AFP in Tripoli.
“Arms are spilling out of hundreds of inadequately secured bunkers. Other weapons have spread across the country to militia stockpiles in urban centers, museums, fields and even homes,” she added.
Threats to civilians include stockpiles at risk of explosion in or near populated areas, civilian curiosity and access to contaminated sites and munitions, plus the harvesting of abandoned weapons for sale or personal use.
Civilians are endangered during the clearance of munition by local communities that lack professional training and the display of weapons as mementos of war, the report found.
In one instance, in the western town of Dafniya, where a brigade kept weapons in some 22 shipping containers, an explosion spread so much dangerous material that it endangered the whole community.
Steve Joubert of JMACT (Joint Mine Action Coordination Team) was quoted as saying that there are “now more weapons than people in Misrata,” in reference to Libya’s third-largest city, which suffered a brutal siege in 2011.
The report noted that the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and international organisations have shouldered the brunt of the work in clearing ordnance and advising local communities on stockpile management.
Citing UNMAS, Boehland said that as of June, there had been at least 208 casualties, including 54 fatalities, from explosive remnants of war. The toll included 72 children either wounded or killed.
“Children are especially attracted to weapons because they are brightly coloured or look like toys,” she said, noting that the number of casualties is likely to be higher than those documented so far.
The report called on Libya’s newly elected authorities to develop a national strategy to secure leftover ordnance and manage stockpiles. It urged international organisations, notably NATO, to help out.
NATO’s bombings of ammunition bunkers during the conflict last year “spread ordnance across open fields, thus creating a more dangerous and difficult problem,” it said.
It is a thankless and increasingly deadly job, and one so mired in graft that the drivers see a fraction of the cash paid by U.S. military paymasters
Reuters KHOSH GOMBAT, Afghanistan | Sun Jul 29, 2012
In the cabins of their “jingle” trucks flamboyant with tinsel baubles and painted tiger patterns as they move NATO’s war supplies, Habibullah thinks he and other drivers are becoming a forgotten front in an Afghan war growing more vicious.
From a dusty truck park midway between Kabul and the Pakistan border, and under the constant thump of helicopters from Jalalabad airbase over the road, Habibullah moves food and military materiel across the Taliban’s eastern heartland, from Nuristan to the former al Qaeda cave stronghold of Tora Bora.
“We worry about our fate when NATO leaves, because the Taliban also call us the infidels. For them, we are not just the enemy, but also traitors,” said the soft spoken 23-year-old, who contributes seven trucks to a cooperative with five owners.
It is a thankless and increasingly deadly job, and one so mired in graft that the drivers see a fraction of the cash paid by U.S. military paymasters, with the rest skimmed by middlemen or even going into the hands of insurgents for “protection”.
Only this week, three of Habibullah’s trucks were attacked and burned by Taliban amid the rugged mountains of Nuristan, a virtual no-go zone for NATO soldiers after heavy past losses and now garrisoned by a handful of Afghan troops and police.
WALLA WALLA, Wash. — A Walla Walla soldier based out of North Carolina was killed Wednesday in an attack in Afghanistan, his family said. First Lt. Mathew “Mat” Fazzari was killed by enemy fire while flying in his first tour in Bagram.
AP at Fox News June 6, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan – NATO: US-led coalition helicopter crashes in Afghanistan, two NATO service members killed.
Rod Nordland New York Times June 3, 2012
SALANG PASS, Afghanistan — Nowhere is the impact of Pakistan’s ban on NATO truck traffic more visible than here at the top of the Hindu Kush, on one of the only alternative overland routes for supply convoys to reach Kabul and the rest of the country.
For 20 miles north and south of the old Soviet-built tunnel at Salang Pass, thousands of trucks are idled beside the road, waiting for a turn to get through its perilous, one-and-a-half-mile length.
This is the only passable route for heavy truck traffic bringing NATO supplies in from the Central Asian republics to the north, as they now must come.
There are other roads, but they are often single-lane dirt tracks through even higher mountain passes, or they are frequently subject to ambushes by insurgents and bandits. So a tunnel built to handle 1,000 vehicles a day, and until the Pakistani boycott against NATO in November handling 2,000, now tries — and often fails — to let 10,000 vehicles through, alternating northbound and southbound truck traffic every other day.
“It’s only a matter of time until there’s a catastrophe,” said Lt. Gen. Mohammad Rajab, the head of maintenance for the Salang Pass. “One hundred percent certain, there will be a disaster, and when there is, it’s not a disaster for Afghanistan alone, but for the whole international community that uses this road.” He said 90 percent of the traffic now was trailer and tanker trucks carrying NATO supplies.
Afghan National Police Contract Requirements Were Not Clearly Defined but Contract Administration Improved
DODIG-2012-094 May 30, 2012
MEMORANDUM FOR DEPUTY COMMANDING GENERAL FOR SUPPORT,
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION TRAINING
TRANSITION COMMAND-AFGHAN 1STAN
AUDITOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
COMMANDER, DEFENSE CONTRACT MANAGEMENT
SUBJECT: Afghan National Police Contract Requirements Were Not Clearly Defined but
Contract Administration Improved (Report No. DODIG-2012-094)
We are providing this repoli for your information and use, This is one in a series of reports on
the DoD Afghan National Police contract. We considered management comments on a draft of
this report when preparing the final report. The management comments conformed to the
requirements of DoD Directive 7650.3; therefore, additional comments are not required
McClatchy May 16, 2012
ISLAMABAD — The cost of the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan is about to rise by $365 million annually under an agreement that would reopen a key NATO supply route through Pakistan that’s been closed for nearly six months.
The accord, which the Pakistani government announced late Tuesday, would revive the transport of vital supplies of food and equipment from Pakistani ports overland to land-locked Afghanistan. In return, the U.S.-led coalition will pay Pakistan a still-to-be-fixed fee of $1,500 to $1,800 for each truck carrying supplies, a tab that officials familiar with negotiations estimated would run nearly $1 million a day. The officials requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to reveal details of the agreement.
Pakistan closed the land route to supplies headed to the coalition after American aircraft mistakenly attacked two Pakistani border outposts Nov. 26, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Since then, supplies for coalition forces in Afghanistan have passed through one of two routes that stretch from Afghanistan through central Asia and Siberia to Georgia on the Black Sea. One of the routes is nearly 6,000 miles long. The Pakistan route is less than 500 miles.
Officials in Washington said they didn’t know how much of the new cost the United States would bear. As the United States contributes more than two-thirds of the 130,000-strong international force, which operates under the command of NATO, it’s expected that Washington will pay most of the new fee.
DAWN April 13, 2012
ISLAMABAD: In a hard-won consensus, parliament recommended to the government on Thursday to no more let Pakistan serve as conduit of arms to Afghanistan, but gave a green signal for a resumption of non-lethal Nato supplies to the war-ravaged country.
And before the joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate unanimously adopted revised recommendations of a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee on National Security, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani assured the house that his government would implement its landmark guidelines “in letter and spirit”.
“Pakistani territory including its airspace shall not be used for transportation of arms and ammunition to Afghanistan,” said the committee’s revised report, which dropped clauses of a previous report containing conditions for resuming transportation of supplies through Pakistani land routes for US forces, Nato and a Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan, effectively leaving the matter to administrative decisions of the Pakistani government.
However, the committee reiterated its earlier call for an “immediate cessation” of US drone attacks aimed at suspected militant hideouts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, ignoring suggestions made from some lawmakers during a protracted debate to make such a halt a precondition for allowing Nato supplies
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Turkish military helicopter crashed into a house near the Afghan capital Friday, killing 12 Turkish soldiers on board and two girls on the ground, Turkish and Afghan officials said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the helicopter was one of two that took off on Friday.
“Unfortunately, the one in front came down for an unknown reason,” he said.
He said there were officers and noncommissioned officers on board.
VOA March 16, 2011
Turkey’s military says one of its helicopters has crashed into a house on the outskirts of the Afghan capital Kabul, killing 12 Turkish soldiers.
Authorities say the Sikorsky helicopter crashed into the house Friday in the Bagrami district.
The Turkish military said the aircraft belonged to the Turkish armed forces and was part of the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.
In eastern Afghanistan, NATO says one of its service members died Thursday in a bomb blast.
WAPO World February 24, 2012
KABUL — Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, recalled all NATO personnel working in Afghan ministries in the Kabul area on Saturday after two NATO soldiers were killed by an Afghan security official inside the Interior Ministry earlier in the day.
The step was taken “for obvious force protection reasons,” Allen said in a statement that capped a week marked by escalating distrust between NATO and Afghan forces. “We are investigating the crime and will pursue all leads to find the person responsible for this attack. The perpetrator of this attack is a coward whose actions will not go unanswered.”
On January 30 I wrote a post regarding sexual violence by private contractors. Though the most flagrant instances have occurred in the past, it is still a problem.
Although I was not singling out any company in particular I did mention DynCorp because it served as the inspiration for the movie The Whistleblower that came out last year. This relates to the infamous cases of sex trafficking and slavery in Bosnia back in the Balkan wars of the nineties.
Okay, stuff happens. Although other things have happened with DynCorp, more specifically the DynCorp International division, over the years, it is a big company and employs lots of people. One should not tar every company with the sins of a past employee.
As big corporations go DynCorp, in my limited experience, is very decent. Full disclosure: years ago, I worked three years for one of its arms control units, not DynCorp International, and found the people there highly professional and very ethical.
Still, my past post evidently did not go down well at DynCorp HQ. I was emailed a response by one of their vice presidents taking me to task for my presumed sins. At the request of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in London, which had listed my post in their weekly update, they emailed a similar response to them.
I fully understand that DynCorp wants to put the best possible face on this issue but I feel its response is a little too self-serving so let me just do some parsing of some of its statement.
With regard to the movie it writes,
‘The Whistleblower’ centers on allegations of human trafficking, a serious crime and global problem. Although the Company was never contacted by the filmmakers to obtain even a basic description of past work in Bosnia, to fact-check allegations or to obtain our position on these issues, when the Company reached out to the representatives for the filmmakers to gain more information about the movie, we were informed that the film, in the distributor’s words, ‘is a fictionalized, dramatic presentation.
I realize that in times long past it was popular to kill the messenger but that is supposedly out of fashion nowadays. DynCorp seems to think the filmmaker, who is Larysa Kondracki, had an obligation to contact them to get their spin. She did not…..
Officials says some 31 others were wounded, including three foreigners — two men and a woman
Britain’s International Development ministry in London confirmed that three civilian members of the international aid team were among those injured in the blast
Three foreign civilians who were traveling in the vehicles – which belonged to a British-led provincial reconstruction team – were injured. The teams are made up of diplomats, civilian specialists and military personnel who work on development projects
AP Update Three civilian international members of the aid team – two men and one woman – were among the wounded, said Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial governor. He said their injuries were not life threatening and did not know their nationalities.
Voice of America January 26, 2012
Afghan officials say a suicide car bomber has killed four civilians in an attack on a NATO-affiliated provincial reconstruction team in southern Afghanistan.
A spokesman for the governor of Helmand province said Thursday’s attack took place in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.
Officials say the bomber hit a convoy of armored vehicles passing near the education department building.
A child was among those killed in the attack. Officials says some 31 others were wounded, including three foreigners — two men and a woman.
At least 17 civilian cars were damaged, some bursting into flames. NATO has declined to comment on the attack.
AP Via CBS News November 27, 2011
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Hundreds of trucks carrying supplies to U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan backed up at Pakistani border crossings Sunday, leaving them vulnerable to militant attack a day after Islamabad closed the frontier in retaliation for coalition airstrikes that allegedly killed 24 Pakistani troops.
As Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani attended the funerals of the victims, including a major, the U.S. sought to minimize the fallout from the crisis, which plunged Washington’s already-troubled relationship with Islamabad to an all-time low.
Pakistan also ordered the U.S. to vacate an air base that is used by American drones to target al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the country’s tribal region along the Afghan border. The U.S. has relied heavily on drone strikes in the past few years, partly out of frustration with Pakistan’s refusal to target militants using its territory to stage attacks against American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
There are forces working against a total rupture in the relationship. Pakistan still relies on billions of dollars in American military and civilian aid, and the U.S. needs Islamabad’s help to push Afghan insurgents to engage in peace talks.
But tensions could rise further if militants unleash attacks against the stranded trucks ferrying NATO supplies to Afghanistan
The New York Times November 3, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan — Insurgents attacked a logistics company Es-Ko that works with NATO Italian Troops in the western city of Herat on Thursday, igniting a three-hour gun battle that left two Afghan security guards and five insurgents dead, local officials said.
Afghan and coalition forces evacuated 31 civilians from the compound during the attack, which took place about a half mile from NATO’s regional headquarters in Heart Province, said Sgt. Juan Ardura Santa Engracia, a spokesman for the regional NATO command. At least four people were wounded, according to initial unconfirmed reports.
Herat has been one of the safest major cities in the country and was among seven locations that began the transition from coalition troops to Afghan security forces in July, though NATO troops maintain a substantial presence there.
The attack was the latest to take place in or near a heavily fortified urban area after militants staged a similar attack in Kandahar City on Monday that killed five people, including a senior police chief and three Afghan workers with the United Nations refugee agency.
USA Today October 29, 2011 11am
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a van into an armored NATO bus Saturday in Kabul, killing 13 American troops and four Afghans, U.S. and Afghan officials said, in the deadliest attack on coalition forces in more than two months
The explosion, which occurred as the convoy was passing the American University, sparked a fireball and littered the street with shrapnel. Heavy black smoke poured from burning wreckage at the site.
The armored personnel carrier, known as a Rhino, was sandwiched between of a convoy of mine-resistant military vehicles traveling on a four-lane highway frequently used by NATO forces in a southwestern section of the city.
NATO said 13 service members were killed, but a U.S. official confirmed they were all Americans. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The Afghan Ministry of Interior said three Afghan civilians and one policeman also died in the attack. Eight other Afghans, including two children and four other civilians, were wounded, said Kabir Amiri, head of Kabul hospitals.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack, as well as for another suicide bombing outside a government intelligence office in the northwest province of Kunar.
The attack occurred near the entrance of the American University and the nearby landmark Darulaman Palace, the bombed-out seat of former Afghan kings
Commanders say Omaid Khpalwak was ‘mistakenly’ shot dead as suicide bombers attacked a police station
Jeremy Kelly in Kabul for Guardian UK August 8, 2011
Military officials met close relatives of Omaid Khpalwak on Thursday and apologised for their “mistake” during an operation against a squad of insurgents, who had attacked a police command post.
Khpalwak, who was hiding in fear during the attack and spoke good English, was shot 11 times. His brother Jawid, who always maintained that his brother was killed by Nato forces, said his family remained angry at Nato’s actions on the day.
“They thought he was a suicide bomber, but how?” Jawid asked. “He spoke English and would have been showing his press card.”
It is understood that it was US troops who shot Omaid. They were responding to an attack on a police command post near their base in Tarin Kot, the provincial capital of Uruzgan on 28 July.
A Nato official confirmed that the military alliance had met the family and offered its condolences for the mistake. The official said they would issue a press release shortly.
Omaid Khpalwak was at a TV station that adjoined the command post when a squad of suicide bombers attacked. He hid in fear, texting his brother: “I am hiding. Death has come.” Then, soon after, “Pray for me if I die”.
Omaid worked for the BBC as its stringer in the southern province of Uruzgan, as well as an Afghan online news service. His brother said he was still receiving threats after speaking out against the foreign military.