Report: 43 anti-aircraft missiles found in Algeria

February 20, 2012 - 12:35 PM

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algerian security services have found two cache of weapons, including 43 anti-aircraft missiles, hidden in the sand near the Libyan border, a local newspaper reported Monday.

The French-language daily El Watan quoted unidentified security officials as saying the missiles were discovered recently in the town of In Amenas in southern Algeria.

Government officials would not confirm the report.

One cache included Russian designed SA-24 anti-aircraft missiles and the shoulder-fired SAM-7 from the arsenal of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

According to the U.S., Libya amassed some 20,000 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons, the largest such stockpile in a non-producing country.

In October, the U.N. Security Council urged Libyan authorities to do all they could from keeping their enormous stockpile of shoulder-fired missiles from falling into terrorist hands.

It is feared that terrorist groups might use the missiles to attack civil aviation.

Thousands of the weapons are believed to have gone missing when militias overthrew the Gadhafi and helped themselves to government stockpiles.

Algerian authorities have long warned that weapons from Libya's civil war could call into terrorist hands, including the local branch of al-Qaida, which is active in northern Algeria as well as in the desert wastes straddling the borders to the south.

According to El Watan, authorities discovered the caches near In Amenas, thanks to information from smugglers working in the remote region.