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Algeria thwarts Al-Qaeda's attempts to smuggle arms to Mali

The Algerian army thwarted an attempt by Al-Qaeda militants to smuggle nearly forty rockets in to Mali last week, local newspapers said.

Al-Khabar newspaper said the Algerian army confiscated "30 Katyusha rockets and 17 Strela surface-air-missiles" from members of Al-Qaeda in Northern Mali near the Libyan border; 1,850 kilometres south-east of Algiers.

Al-Shorouq newspaper said the army confiscated "10 Katyusha rockets and 17 Strela missiles while the army destroyed the rest of the arsenal at the location". The newspaper added that the army "destroyed two vehicles, including a four-wheel drive, and killed the terrorists and smugglers on board. The army is trying to identify the terrorists' identities".

An anonymous source was quoted however AFP has been unable to verify the information from other sources.

According to Al-Khabar, on Saturday night the army identified "a convoy consisting of four-wheel drive cars and two trucks driving through the desert in the northern Libyan city of Ghat towards Algeria".

The newspaper said two cars from the convoy drove off towards the Libyan territories after an exchange of gun fire with the Algerian army, while the army stopped one car and two trucks and arrested two people, one of them was wounded.

Algeria and Libya share more than a one thousand kilometre long border across the desert, which has been closed since Colonel Gaddafi's regime was ousted two years ago.

The Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal visited Tripoli in December and agreed to strengthen cooperation with Libya to secure borders against arms smuggling.

Tunisia, Libya and Algeria agreed during the summit in Ghadames in January 2013 to cooperate to secure their shared borders, prevent arms proliferation and control terrorist groups' movement.

Algeria's Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal is expected to visit the border city of Illizi today.

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