Overseas Civilian Contractors

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Death Illustrates Issues With Loose Weapons Stockpiles in Libya

The New York Times  June 13, 2012

The death of an Estonian explosive ordnance disposal technician in Libya this spring illustrates the continuing problem of loose weapons stockpiles almost a year after Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was driven from power.

The technician, Kaido Keerdo, died in March while examining unexploded munitions scattered near a police compound and checkpoint in Ad Dafniyah as part of his work for the nongovernmental group Danish Church Aid.

The checkpoint had been fought over by rival Libyan militias three nights before. The groups were quarreling over access to 22 shipping containers of Qaddafi-era munitions, according to the aid group’s investigation, the findings of which were described this week to The New York Times.

One of the containers was struck during the fighting and caught fire. The explosion that followed ruptured at least 11 containers, heaving into the air a poorly stored collection of grenades, rockets and mortar rounds, some of which landed almost 500 yards away.

The munitions, once seen by Libya’s armed groups as instruments for breaking free from internal repression and making the country safe, were then scattered near houses, a mosque and a school along Libya’s main coastal road. The inadequately trained militias and ad hoc police officers had stored rockets and shells with fuzes inserted, a configuration that compounded their dangers.

Among this refuse were 122-millimeter rockets containing Type 84 land mines, one of the most volatile weapons in Libya’s prewar stocks. Mr. Keerdo, a demining team leader, was surveying the police compound and apparently knelt near one of these rockets. At least one mine exploded, killing him instantly.

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June 15, 2012 Posted by | Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Demining, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Libya, NGO's, Safety and Security Issues, United Nations, UXO | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment