Suspected Cluster-munition Use by Pro-Gaddafi Forces

In April 2011, The New York Times reported that pro-Gaddafi forces used cluster munitions on the civilian population in the city of Misrata.1 Human Rights Watchs on-the-ground inspection discovered the use of Spanish-made MAT-120 120mm mortars produced in 2007, prior to Spains signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, targeting residential areas one kilometer away from front-line fighting.2 The mortar “opens in mid-air and releases 21 submunitions over a wide area.”2 A further interview with ambulance drivers conducted by HRW discovered that cluster attacks occurred before 14 April.2 Despite the Libyan government’s denial of cluster-bomb use, doctors in Misrata acknowledge that patient wounds are consistent with cluster munitions.3 HRW describes the danger of these munitions as anti-personnel, as well as anti-material, because the munitions are designed to not only hurt people but damage armored vehicles.2 Libya is not a signatory of the CCM. J

~ Zarina Yancheva, CISR staff

Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
James Madison University
800 S. Main St. MSC 4902
Harrisonburg, VA 22807


  1. Chivers, C.J. “Gaddafi Troops Fire Cluster Bombs into Civilian Areas.” The New York Times, 15 April 2011. Accessed 17 June 2011.
  2. Human Rights Watch. “Libya: Cluster Munitions Strike Misrata.” 17 June 2011. Accessed 18 April 2011.
  3. Sherwood, Harriet. “Libya: Gaddafi forces ‘using cluster bombs in Misrata.’ ” 15 April 2011. Accessed 17 June 2011.