August 31, 2011 / 6:00 PM / 8 years ago

Germany to probe how rifles wound up in Libya

BERLIN, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Germany and Libya’s new authorities will investigate reports that high-powered German assault rifles wound up in Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals where the weapons were seized by rebels and used against his forces, officials said on Wednesday.

Libyan fighters had been seen carrying the high-tech rifles made by Heckler & Koch in southern Germany and normally used by special forces, the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper said.

The newspaper said Libyan fighters armed themselves with the weapons, a version of the G36 assault rifle, after taking them from arsenals in the fighting to oust Gaddafi.

“The German government does not know how weapons of this type could have possibly ended up in Libya,” economy ministry spokesman Tobias Pohl told a news conference.

“(We) will look into this question with the new Libyan government as soon as a corresponding structure is in place to hold a full investigation,” he said.

The ministry did not authorise the sale of such weapons to Libya, said officials cited by the newspaper.

Heckler & Koch said in a statement it had never delivered such weapons to Libya and filed a request with public prosecutors in the city of Rottweil to investigate.

“At no time was there a delivery of the G36 to Libya by Heckler & Koch or related companies and organisations,” said the company, adding that it was “very interested” in clarifying the case.

The newspaper said a longer version of the rifle is standard issue to German soldiers and that the weapon can be linked through markings to German manufacturers. (Reporting by Brian Rohan; Editing by Roger Atwood)

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