By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli, 16 September:
Four arms smugglers, one Libyan and three Algerians, have been . . .[restrict]arrested in what appears to have been an ambush sprung by Algerian security forces. The men were captured after a firefight in which one was seriously injured.
The operation took place in the Kara El Ain district, just south of the Algerian city of Illizi last Wednesday. It reportedly involved the high-technology tracking of an armed group of smugglers using cross-country vehicles and remote desert tracks. The Algerian authorities have given no precise details of how they knew of the smugglers movements. This is however only the latest in a growing number of successful smuggler interceptions staged by the Algerians authorities, since they tightened security along their Libyan border.
There are reported to have been 32 weapons in the haul, including 8 machine guns and 24 automatic rifles, as well as 14,000 rounds of ammunition, all of which are said to have been plundered from Libyan military arms dumps.
Sources in Algiers have given conflicting reports as to the intended destination of the weapons. One intelligence official indicated that the smugglers were connected with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. However another off-the-record briefing maintained that the arms were being shipped to drugs smugglers and arms dealers at Tamanrasset.