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Rocket launcher found near rail-transit station in Atlanta

(The following article by Mark Niesse was distributed by the Associated Press on May 19.)

ATLANTA -- A military rocket launcher was found Tuesday near a rail-transit station, but the FBI said it looks to be a less-powerful training model unable to bring down an aircraft or destroy a train.

Fully outfitted versions of the M136 AT4 launcher are used by the Army to destroy light tanks. The one found near a MARTA station west of Atlanta will be examined to be sure it is only a training model, FBI spokesman Steve Lazarus said.

"If it is indeed a training device, it's something you can buy at any gun store," he said.

Lazarus said there was no cause for public alarm, and the city's rail-transit system was not interrupted by the discovery.

The shoulder-held launcher was found around 2 p.m. by transit employees who were making a routine inspection of tracks near the Hamilton E. Holmes MARTA station, said Gene Wilson, MARTA police chief.

The empty launcher had been fired at one time, but investigators had not determined when or how it was used, he said.

"It kind of looks like mini bazooka," he said.

Wilson said the launcher was Army green and had military markings on it. He said he could not elaborate.

The launcher, which was about 3 feet tall and 6 inches wide, was found on an embankment next to a railroad track parallel to the city's east-west rail-transit line.

There was no immediate indication of how it got there. The FBI and police were searching the area to make sure there were no similar devices.

The site where the launcher was found is about eight miles northwest of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

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