By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 5 February 2014:
Niger has called on the international community to intervene in southern Libya to prevent Islamist . . .[restrict]fighters setting up bases there.
Niger’s Interior Minister Massoudou Hassoumi told Radio France International during a visit to Paris that the countries which had helped Libya overthrow Qaddafi needed to provide “an after-sales service”. He claimed that as a result of Qaddafi being removed, the south of Libya had become a “an incubator for terrorist groups”.
He claimed that it would be “totally legitimate” for countries such as France and the US to send troops “to eradicate the terrorist threat in the south of Libya”. He added that he thought that international intervention could well happen given that there was now an awareness of the problem.
There were communal clashes between in and around Sebha last month between Tebus and members of the Awlad Sulaiman which were then overtaken by fighting between security forces (still largely the Awlad Sulaiman who serve in the local army brigade) and Qaddafi supporters. However, following last week’s deployment in the town of forces from Misrata, Zintan and Jadu, the situation has calmed. During the clashes, though, France’s outgoing Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Edouard Guillaud, called for an international operation to put an end to instability in the south of Libya.
Hassoumi’s comment is seen as a support for Guillaud’s statement.
For their part, the French have already said there is no possibility of intervention in Libya.
This is not the first time that Niger has said that Libya has become a base for Islamist militants. Last May, the Nigerean president Mahamadou Issoufou claimed that that the suicide bombers who carried out two attacks in the north of his country which killed 24 people had crossed over from Libya.
The accusation was described by Ali Zeidan at the time as “groundless”.
For its part, Niger has been providing sanctuary to Saadi Qaddafi who has been accused by the government of being behind last month’s series of pro-Qaddafi inicidents, the most prominent being the takeover of the Tamenhint airbase near Sebha. It has since transpired that although Saadi was supposed to be under house arrest he was in fact elsewhere. The Nigerean have since ordered him to return to house arrest but have not disclosed where had been or if he is now back at his refuge. [/restrict]