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Algeria seizes weapons on Libya border

New border security operations by the Algerian army led to the arrest of Libyan smugglers and the seizure of illegal arms.

A large quantity of weapons was uncovered Saturday (January 10th) in the border town of Debdeb during a sweep of residential neighbourhoods, the defence ministry said.

The search, which began last Friday, took place “as part of efforts to secure the border and combat smuggling and organised crime”, according to the ministry.

In the second operation, an army unit arrested five Libyans in south-eastern Djanet and seized three vehicles.

This was not the first time for Algeria to discover arms near its border with Libya. Following the terrorist attack that targeted the Tiguentourine gas complex in January 2013, ANP units found several weapons caches, including rockets and bombs, buried in the sand.

Since that deadly attack, Algeria has stepped up its security measures on the border and deployed additional reinforcements to monitor the frontier with Libya, Mali and Niger. The aim is to confront any infiltration attempts by terrorists or smugglers.

Algerian army units have achieved important results in the war on terrorism since they were deployed to the border last June, according to Colonel Sbaâ Mabrouk, spokesperson for the meeting of the Joint Military Staff Committee of the Sahel Region (CEMOC).

“Many terrorists have been killed and significant quantities of weapons and ammunition have been seized in recent months. Thanks to their vigilance, the units have also seized more than 100 tonnes of drugs, more than one million litres of fuel ready to be smuggled, have recovered 150 weapons, and arrested 1,500 smugglers,” Colonel Mabrouk said in a statement last Friday.

The increase of smuggling operations has alarmed security officials, especially as the fighting in Libya became fiercer.

This has prompted Algeria to establish contacts with tribal dignitaries in southern Libya in an attempt to secure their support for international efforts to launch a dialogue to put an end to the armed conflict.

There has been daily contact between authorities in Illizi and dignitaries in south-western Libya for more than two months, according to Algerian media. The main aim is to help Libyans control security and at the same time provide humanitarian assistance. The sources said that the most important demand made by Libyan dignitaries was about opening the border permanently.

Algeria is raising the issue of confronting terrorist groups in southern Libya, especially after reports indicated that the activities of militants that fled northern Mali to south-western Libya have increased.

According to Abbas Bouamama, an Illizi province senator, tribal dignitaries play a major role, especially in southern Libya, whether by actively supporting efforts to realise reconciliation or helping control the area in the event the conflict continues.

“This is important for Algeria, which may have an important source for obtaining security information in case it can’t obtain such information from official authorities that may not be able to assess the situation on the ground in areas beyond their control,” he said.

Algeria recently opened its border with Libya to allow in medical patients.

“Given the historical relations with Libya, it was the duty of Algeria to provide humanitarian support and respond to their appeal for assistance,” said Saida Benhabyles, the head of Algeria’s Red Crescent Society.

Article by Walid Ramzi, Magharebia.

This article was originally published here.

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