Hmmmmmmm. Sounds like a violation of international law to me, building a weapons factory to look like a school. KGS

Libyan rebels search for Gaddafi in desert city partly built by Finns

Weapons factory camouflaged as a school

Libyan rebels search for Gaddafi in desert city partly built by Finns

The search for Libya’s deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi has turned eyes toward a desert city that was partly built by Finns.

The desert centre of Bani Walid, which lies 200 kilometres southeast of the capital Tripoli, was home to many Finns in the early 1980s, when Finnish companies working together with Soviet builders, built a large building covering 200,000 square metres.

The Finns designed the walls and roof, and the Soviets brought in the machinery. Officially the building was supposed to be an annex to school. Supervisors of the construction work got used to talking about a “sewing machine factory”.

However, those who were there understood that the facility would be put to completely different use. This was already suggested by the remote location and gigantic dimensions of the building.

“It is clear that such a hall was not being built for sewing machines or as a school. It was used at least for the assembly ofKalashnikov’s [Soviet model assault rifles], and possibly other weapons”, says a former worker interviewed by Helsingin Sanomat.

The worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, lived in Bani Walid (sometimes also spelled Beni Walid) for about three years in the mid-1980s. He said that access to the construction area, which was surrounded by walls and barbed wire, was restricted to those with passes granted by the Libyan army.

The construction worker’s memory was jogged when it was reported by various sources on Monday that Gaddafi might be hiding in Bani Walid. The first such report came from the Italian news agency Ansa, which quoted a Libyan diplomatic source, which had reported that the dictator’s family had fled to Algeria before the Algerian government had confirmed the news.

NATO has also put Bani Walid in its sights. On Monday NATO reported that it had hit two “command hubs” in the city and one ammunition dump. It is possible that the latter had originally been built by Finns.

The Helsingin Sanomat source says that about 200 Finnish engineers and other experts worked in Bani Walid, and some had their families with them. The so-called dirty jobs were done by about 2,000 cheap labourers brought in from the Philippines.

More here.

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