Libyan fighter jets hit suspected smugglers in southern military zone

A Mirage F1 fighter jet of . . .[restrict]the Libyan Air Force. (Photo: Times of Malta)

Tripoli, 18 December:

Libyan airforce jets hit a camp being used by suspected smugglers on Tuesday morning, less than 48 hours after large swathes of the south were declared closed military zones.

According to Al-Jazeera, the strike took place close to the border with Chad and Sudan, not far from Kufra. It is not reported if there have been any casualties.

Last week, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan announced that any caravan or group crossing the border other than at official frontier posts would “dealt with” by aircraft or by land forces.

On Sunday evening, the National Congress passed a resolution declaring the south closed and announcing that the borders with Niger, Chad, Sudan and Algeria would be temporarily closed.

GNC members passed the exceptional legislation with a majority of 136, designating the areas around Ghadamis, Ghat, Awbari, Al-Shati, Sebha, Murzuq and Kufra as closed zones of military operations.

A military governor will also be appointed for the south by the Ministry of Defence following consultations with the Congress. It is also understood that the plans include closing all but certain roads and pathways to civilian traffic to enable security forces to more accurately identify illegal activity.

The legislation comes in the wake of months of sporadic unrest in the remote south, much of which falls only under the most nominal of state control.

Earlier this month, some 20 southern GNC Congressman walked out of Congress in protest at what they called “the deteriorating security in their region” and the government’s failure to address these concerns.

The walkout came on the same day as a mass jail breakout in Sebha, which saw 197 inmates escape with the possible assistance of prison guards. [/restrict]

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