updated 10/30/2004 9:55:40 AM ET 2004-10-30T13:55:40

A Human Rights Watch leader said Saturday he alerted the U.S. military in Iraq in May 2003 to a cache of hundreds of warheads containing high explosives but that the weapons still hadn't been secured when he left the area 10 days later.

Peter Bouckaert, who heads the New York-based group's international emergency team, told The Associated Press he was shown a room "stacked to the roof" with surface-to-surface warheads on May 9, 2003, on the grounds of the 2nd Military College in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Bouckaert said he gave U.S. officials the exact location of the warheads, but that by the time he left the area on May 19, 2003, he had seen no U.S. forces at the site, which he said was being looted daily by armed men.

Bouckaert said displaced people he was working with in the area had taken him to the warheads. "They said, `There's stocks of weapons here and we're very concerned -- can you please inform the coalition?"' he said in a telephone interview from South Africa.

After photographing the warheads, Bouckaert said he went straight to U.S. officials in Baghdad's Green Zone complex, where he claimed officials at first didn't seem interested in his information.

"They asked mainly about chemical or biological weapons, which we hadn't seen," he said.

Bouckaert said he eventually was put in touch with unidentified U.S. officials and showed them on a map where the stash was located, also giving them the exact GPS coordinates for the site.

But he said he never saw U.S. forces at the site when he returned to the area for daily interviews with refugees, and that the site still was not secured when he finally left the area.

"Looting was taking place by a lot of armed men with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades," Bouckaert said. He said each of the warheads contained an estimated 57 pounds of high explosives.

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