A camp used by jihadists near Traghen, south of Sebha, is reported to have been attacked this morning, but it is unclear by whom. There were said to have been huge explosions at ammunition store at the camp. One report speaks of a helicopter being involved in the attack and a number of militants captured. The incident apparently happened at 03:00 local time.
The camp is thought to be that being used by militants linked to Mokhtar Belmokhtar the Algerian former commander of Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) and now heading the group Al-Murabitoun. The camp has been the focus of intense US and French military interest.
One report claimed that French forces were involved. However, a French military specialist focusing on the area said it was extremely unlikely that French forces would be operating so far from the border with Niger and Chad.If there had been an attack he said, it was more likely to have involved US drones.
Nonetheless, there have been persistent reports this month of French forces, part of the six-nation anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane, gathering on the Chadian side of the border. It has even been alleged that some of them, accompanied by Chadian forces, had crossed into Libya, although this has been denied by French diplomats.
In Paris, in an interview published today in the Journal du Dimanche and indicating increased French concern about southern Libya, France’s Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the area had become a “terrorist hub” and that dealing with it was a priority. Although a military operation by itself would be “sterile” without a political solution, Al-Qaeda and Daesh were merging into one in Libya, he said, and the United Nations and the African Union would have to take action on it in 2015. The world was entering into a new situation, he said. With an abundance of funds and weapons, the terrorists were becoming militarized. “It demands a military response”.
Meanwhile Khalid Al-Sharif, who has retained the position of deputy defence minister in Omar Al-Hassi’s Tripoli-based “government”, is reported today claiming that 67 Chadian military vehicles had crossed the border and accusing Chad of interfering in Libya’s internal affairs. The former commander in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, was also reported saying that his forces would respond in due course.
This article was originally published here.