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Libyan rebels use Swiss ammunition

Rebels fighting for the removal of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi are using Swiss M80 rifle ammunition, according to a news report on Swiss television.

The Rundschau programme claimed the ammunition, which conforms to Nato standards, came from the state-owned arms manufacturer Ruag and was exported to Qatar by the FGS Frex company in Oberägeri, canton Zug.

FGS Frex confirmed the report, which also said the deal had been approved in 2009 by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) on condition that Qatar did not forward the ammunition to a third party.

Swiss authorities are now examining whether the ban on re-exportation had been broken by Qatar. Seco told Rundschau on Wednesday that until that issue had been cleared up, no further materiel exports would be approved to Qatar.

Rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces are locked in a stalemate with the rebels unable to advance beyond pockets in the west despite a Nato air campaign against Gaddafi’s forces. Rebel forces hold most of the east but have been unable to wrest the strategic oil town of Brega from Gaddafi’s forces.

The Nato-led campaign of airstrikes was mandated by the United Nations to protect civilians from a crackdown by Gaddafi on an uprising against his rule, amid revolts this year around the Arab world.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR