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Unguarded weapons in Libya worry UN

TRIPOLI, Libya -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Libya's new leaders Wednesday to quickly secure chemical weapons, nuclear materials and shoulder-fired missiles, some of which have been left unguarded during the eight-month civil war that toppled Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

Ban said he was encouraged by a pledge from Libya's interim leader, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, to protect the weapons sites -- though unsecured stockpiles of missiles and other munitions were still being discovered as recently as last month.

Earlier this week, Libyan officials said they found two undeclared chemical weapons sites, along with 7,000 drums of raw uranium. Under Gadhafi, Libya had pledged nearly a decade ago to stop pursuing nonconventional weapons.

Inspectors from the Organization for the Protection of Chemical Weapons were arriving Wednesday in Libya.

During Libya's civil war, many military sites were left unguarded because of the conflict, exposing them to looting.

Earlier this week, the UN Security Council expressed concern about the weapons, including the fate of thousands of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles that pose a risk to civil aviation. An unknown number of missiles have disappeared and a senior Libyan border official has reported brisk weapons smuggling from Libya to Egypt.

The Security Council urged Libya to prevent such weapons from reaching terrorists and other armed groups. It also called on Libyan authorities to destroy chemical weapons stockpiles in coordination with international authorities.

-- AP

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