Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Ukraine's Army Said Two Anti-Aircraft Missiles Missing

KIEV, Ukraine -- Two anti-aircraft missiles are missing from a southern military depot in Ukraine, the Unian news agency reported Tuesday, citing the Ukrainian military.

Two packages containing the missiles systems known as SA-7 Grail, which is also called the Strela-3M, or Arrow, are unaccounted for in a military depot in Ukraine's southern Crimean peninsula, Unian reported.

Defense officials could not be reached to comment.

The Unian report stopped short of saying how the military discovered the missing weapons. It said only that a local commander notified police and demanded an investigation.

The heat-seeking Strela missiles are produced in Russia, Eastern Europe, China, Egypt, former Yugoslav republics and elsewhere and are the anti-aircraft weapon of choice for guerillas, rebel forces and terrorists worldwide.

Ukraine's new government has stepped up efforts to clamp down on illicit weapons deals that flourished under the former President Leonid Kuchma.

Last month, a key Ukrainian lawmaker revealed the secret indictments or arrests of at least six arms dealers accused of selling Ukraine's nuclear-capable cruise missiles to Iran and China.

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