Human Rights Watch said it has “no doubt whatsoever” that cluster munitions have been used by regime forces, and the group said it has photographic evidence that MAT-120 bombs were involved.Libya has not signed up to an international ban on cluster bombs but Human Rights Watch special adviser Fred Abrahams said the indiscriminate nature of the weapons means their use is nevertheless “a violation of the rule of war”.
The MAT-120 fires 12 sub-munitions and has a high “dud rate”, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, leaving children at danger of being blown up by unexploded ordnance.
“Photographs of the motor which carried the sub-munitions are on our website. We tracked the marking on those and they are very clearly the Spanish-produced MAT-120,” he said.
“We also interviewed ambulance drivers who explained seeing explosions that were very thoroughly consistent with cluster munitions. So we have no question.”
But Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim denied the use of cluster bombs. “Absolutely not,” he said when asked about the allegations. “We can never do this. We challenge them to prove it.”
Meanwhile troops loyal to Gaddafi unleashed heavy shelling on Misrata on Friday, pushing troops and tanks into the rebel-held western city, a witness said. Elsewhere in Libya, Nato warplanes struck Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte in the east, Libyan TV said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the reports of cluster bombs being used are “worrying”, and “one of the reasons why the fight in Misrata is so difficult”.