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Libya's neighbours share concerns over spread of terrorism

A terrorist attack in Tipoli, Libya killed 12 Libyan soldiers on 24 November, 2015 [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 3 December, 2015

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Foreign ministers of countries neighbouring Libya have expressed fears about growing militant activity in the country, while a UN report said the Islamic State group was struggling to expand there.

Cabinet ministers from several African countries that neighbour Libya have expressed their concern about the expansion of terrorist groups in the North African Arab country.

The foreign ministers of Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Niger, Chad and Tunisia, along with representatives from the Libyan government, the Arab League and the African Union, and the UN envoy to Libya Martin Kobler met in Algeria on Tuesday evening.

The high-profile participants in the meeting agreed that the absence of a solution for the Libyan conflict helped fuel terrorism in Libya.

In a statement, the participants said that forming a national unity government in Libya required the help of the international community and that the "political solution proposed by the UN represents a basis that would guarantee a lasting solution for the Libyan crisis".

The foreign ministers condemned attacks in Tunisia, Mali, Libya and France.

Several armed militant groups, including the Islamic State group, are operating in North Africa. IS has recently tightened its control over the city of Sirte on Libya's Mediterranean coast.

However, a UN report on Tuesday said that IS was struggling to expand its foothold in Libya and has no more than 2,000 to 3,000 fighters in the country.

Despite several attacks on oil installations in Libya, IS lacks the capacity to seize, hold and manage oil fields or refineries in the country, the report said.

There was no indication that the extremist group profited from the refugee smuggling networks in Libya, or that it had set up the elaborate extortion rackets that it runs in Syria and Iraq, according to the report.

IS "is only one player among multiple warring factions in Libya and faces strong resistance from the population as well as difficulties in building and maintaining local alliances", said the report by a sanctions monitoring team.

The Islamic State group first appeared in Libya in 2014 when a group of Libyan fighters returned from Syria and reorganised in the port city of Derna, declaring eastern Libya to be a province of the "caliphate".


In neighbouring Algeria, Algerian soldiers killed three Islamists on Wednesday during a military operation in the region of Tizi Ouzou, east of the capital, said the defence ministry.

Two Kalashnikov assault rifles, a pump-action shotgun and ammunition were seized during the operation north of the city of Azzazga, said the ministry. Five Islamists have been killed since the operation was launched on Sunday.

Islamist-linked violence rocked Algeria in the 1990s but has since waned, although armed groups remain active in central and eastern Algeria, where they mount attacks on security forces.

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