Christian Caryl wrote yesterday on the possibility that the collapse of Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime in Libya -- and the flood of suddenly available weaponry that resulted -- may be at the root of Mali's current crisis. Not surprisingly, as Reuters reports today, the Tuareg rebels may not be the only armed group in North Africa that has come into a post-Qaddafi weapons windfall:
"We found that Libyan weapons are being sold in what is the world's biggest black market for illegal gun smugglers, and Somali pirates are among those buying from sellers in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries," said Judith van der Merwe, of the Algiers-based African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism.
"We believe our information is credible and know that some of the pirates have acquired ship mines, as well as Stinger and other shoulder-held missile launchers," Van der Merwe told Reuters on the sidelines of an Indian Ocean naval conference. [...] The information was gathered from interviews with gun smugglers, pirates and other sources, said Van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe also notes that while the total number of pirates attacks seem to be down this year, the individual ransoms paid are increasing. Ship mines and missile launchers would seem to be a substantial upgrade for the pirate arsenal.
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