Naples, Italy -- NATO maritime forces near the Libyan port of Misrata detected a number of small vessels earlier today and, when investigating suspicious activity, disrupted mine-laying operations by pro-Qadhafi forces designed to threaten the flow of humanitarian aid into Libya.
The sea-mines were being laid two to three kilometers offshore and in the approaches to Misrata by deliberately sinking the inflatable boats on which they were being carried. Three mines have been found and are being disposed of in situ.
NATO warned the Misrata port authorities who temporarily closed the facility resulting in two humanitarian ship movements being cancelled.
“The mining of a civilian port by pro-Qadhafi forces is clearly designed to disrupt the lawful flow of humanitarian aid to the innocent civilian people of Libya and is another deliberate violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973,” said Italian Navy Vice Admiral Rinaldo VeriI, Commander of the Maritime Headquarters in Naples.
“NATO forces are now actively engaged in countering the mine threat to ensure the flow of aid continues,” said Admiral Veri who is responsible for the Maritime Forces involved in Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, adding “NATO urges civilian shipping companies to continue to coordinate with the NATO Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) organization to provide for the safe transit of shipping in the Region.”