Algerian forces catch terror cell

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As battles between armed groups that likely belong to al-Qaeda and Azawad groups rage on Algeria’s southern border, security forces have caught a terror cell and seized a large weapons cache.

A diplomatic source said, “Algeria is concerned about the security problems near its southern border with Mali, where there are battles between armed groups that likely belong to al-Qaeda and Azawad groups.” Algeria’s fear intersects with a statement by a leader in the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad stating that an al-Qaeda leader in Libya controls one of Tripoli’s airports and has been working for months to smuggle arms by land and air to Algeria.

A diplomat in the Algerian Foreign Ministry said in a statement to El-Khabar, “The visits by Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra to the countries of the Sahel this month, including Mali, will be exceptional by virtue of the worrisome situation on the southern border strip against the backdrop of battles between Azawad Islamist groups and al-Qaeda.”

All these Algerian diplomatic moves come in anticipation of the second session of the bilateral Malian-Algerian Strategy Committee regarding northern Mali on May 18, 2014 in Bamako and the consultative meeting, at foreign ministers’ level, for the Sahel countries.

Lamamra said, “The two scheduled meetings in Bamako are part of a framework of Algeria’s efforts to continue its efforts to provide the conditions for launching the dialogue between the Malians as soon as possible and in the best of circumstances.”

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According to the source, the issue of Algerian diplomats kidnapped in Mali more than two years ago has been raised during the tour of the foreign minister, who said, when Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa was visiting Algeria a few days ago, that “their return is imminent in the near future.”

Algeria is worried because armed jihadist groups in northern Mali, according to media reports, formed a commando force that in 11 months assassinated “about 10 people accused of collaborating with the French army and with the Tuareg movements.” Also, gunmen distributed leaflets in a market in Timbuktu threatening “informants and collaborators with the foreign forces.”

On the other hand, Omar Abdul Rahman, the leader of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, revealed that the weapons are coming from “Libyan arms depots” and Malian army depots, while funding is coming from oil and gas revenues. Abdul Rahman, in an interview yesterday [May 7] with the site Sahara Media, said, “Intelligence information and eyewitness testimony confirm that an al-Qaeda leader controls one of Tripoli’s airports, which has been working for months on transferring weapons and equipment by air and land, under the umbrella of humanitarian and voluntary work, to southern Libya, specifically Ghadames.”

The source said, “Those weapons are being smuggled to Algeria’s [deep interior] and we warn of a dangerous situation that will lead to catastrophic consequences for our brothers in Algeria. So we hope to find the fastest solutions in the fastest time.”

A statement issued by the Ministry of National Defense three days ago gave the outcome of a military operation by the People’s National Army in the Taundirt area, west of Tin Zruatin, in the province of Tamanrasset, in which 10 terrorists were killed. In this operation, the army recovered a large weapons arsenal composed of 12 Kalashnikov automatic rifles, one RPG-7 launcher, one hunting rifle, one grenade launcher, 11 RPG-7 rounds, 13 hand grenades and three crates of ammunition for an FM machine gun, one crate of ammunition for a 12.7-mm machine gun and four anti-tank mines.

The Ministry of Defense described it as a “quality operation” that was accomplished thanks to the effective use of information about the movement of the terrorist group and that this “shows, one more time, that the People’s National Army is striving to hunt down terrorist groups and eliminate them wherever they are on national territory.”

Before this operation, the People’s National Army in May captured an armed convoy consisting of six four-wheel-drive vehicles that penetrated the Algerian border coming from Libya. All the persons in the convoy were arrested. They numbered 20 gunmen and were heavily armed with automatic weapons. The operation happened in the area of Tadrart, 200 kilometers (124 miles) southeast of the city of Jant, near the border with Niger and Libya.

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Found in: tuareg, mali, border, azawad, arms smuggling, al-qaeda
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