How rebels get arms, by UN
Firearms amassed during the war in Libya and corrupt officials selling or renting out their guns have helped arm the rebels in Mali, a UN report showed Monday, saying most of the weapons used in the conflict initially came from licit sources.
In a report on transnational organised crime in West Africa, the UN said “the primary source of arms appears to be official state stocks”, channelled onto the region’s black market through theft and bribed law enforcement officials.
The report also said that an estimated 10 000 to 20 000 firearms from Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenal in Libya may have made their way to west Africa, since up to “2 000 Tuareg mercenaries recently returned from Libya, carrying at least their own weapons.”
The UN said the influx of firearms represents “a serious threat to stability in the region, a threat that appears to have been realised in northern Mali”.
In terms of financing the rebel movements, the UN said it is particularly concerned by cocaine trafficking, saying there is a “possibility that trafficking through the region could provide income to non-state armed groups, especially the various rebel forces in the Sahel and the terrorist group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb”.
Malian authorities have showcased a weapons stockpile seized from fleeing Islamists militants in Gao.
“What we have here, it’s indicative of an army, or groups that have the capacity of an army,” AFP quoted Gao commander Laurent Mariko as saying.
The reclaimed weapons included M-16 assault rifles, Czech-made sniper rifles, Russian-made rockets and army