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Eastern Libyan forces announced today that they had found 10 barrels of uranium that had disappeared from a facility in southern Libya, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported on Wednesday.

Khaled al-Majoub, the head of the press service of the Libyan National Army – the force that supports Major General Khalifa Haftar – said in a statement that the 10 barrels were found near the warehouse from where they were taken. However, in a separate video released by him, workers can be seen counting them and taking out 18.

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The IAEA, in a confidential briefing to member countries, said it had detected the disappearance of uranium during an audit at an unnamed location.

The audit was postponed last year due to the situation in Libya.

Majoub said the barrels were kept in a warehouse near the border with Chad, which IAEA experts had visited in 2020 and sealed the entrance with red wax. The barrels were found at a distance of 5 kilometers from there. He assumes, he said, that a group from Chad raided the warehouse and took the barrels, hoping they would contain weapons and ammunition, and then abandoned them.

The IAEA said it had been informed that the material had been found and was working to verify that it was indeed missing uranium. According to its announcement to its member countries, the uranium (yellow cake) was located in a location that is not controlled by the government and access to it is complicated.

The Libyan National Army, under the command of Haftar, fought for six years (2014-20) the forces of western Libya and in 2019 launched an offensive to capture Tripoli. After a ceasefire was reached, the political process to reunify the country has frozen. Forces in eastern Libya deny the legitimacy of the internationally recognized government based in Tripoli.

The Libyan National Army has been supported in the war by the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which a UN panel of experts said had deployed up to 1,200 fighters in Libya. From time to time, fighters from Chad also fought alongside the LES.