Libya's guns free-for-all fuels region's turmoil

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Associated Press

Posted on March 22, 2014 at 4:06 AM

Updated Saturday, Mar 22 at 5:03 AM

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Parts of Libya have become an open air weapons market since the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.

At one such place in Tripoli, tables display pistols and assault rifles. And vendors can pull out heavier weapons to sell for thousands of dollars.

With hundreds of militias and a central government that is virtually powerless, Libya is awash in millions of weapons with no control over their trafficking. Weapon smuggling is also a big business.

The militias outgun the military and police, which were shattered in the civil war. Last month, militia fighters hired to protect Tripoli International Airport stole a planeload of weapons sent by Russia for Libya's military when it stopped to refuel.

The weapons chaos has alarmed Europe and the United States but a Western diplomat says one problem is that Europe and the U.S. simply don't know who to talk to in Libya.

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