* Libya freed militants turned over by Algeria--govt source
* Says anti-Qaeda fight key to good bilateral ties
* Libya rebel military spokesman scorns the conditions
By Lamine Chikhi
ALGIERS, Aug 25 Algeria will not yet recognise
Libyan rebels as the new leadership of its neighbour state and
wants them to make a strong commitment to fighting al Qaeda in
North Africa, an Algerian government source told Reuters.
That message, which drew swift criticism from the Libyan
rebel leadership, underscored a degree of tension between Algeria
and some Libyan rebel leaders who before Muammar Gaddafi
apparent fall in an insurgent advance into Tripoli this week
accused Algiers of supporting him in the civil war. Algerian
authorities have denied this. [ID:nLDE7222FW]
The high-ranking source also said Algeria, a U.S. ally in
the campaign against al Qaeda, has evidence that Libyan
militants it had handed over to Gaddafi's government are now at
large in Libya and some have joined the insurgents.
"There is proof that Libyan Islamists who were delivered by
Algeria to Tripoli have managed to flee and join the rebels. We
even saw one of them on Al Jazeera television, speaking in the
name of the NTC," said the source, referring to the rebels'
National Transitional Council.
"We want to be certain that the new rulers in Libya are
involved in the fight against al Qaeda in our region -- this is
key for good relations," added the source, speaking on condition
Libya's rebel military spokesman, Ahmed Bani, said Algeria's
comments were unfair: "Let them (Algeria) fight al Qaeda first
before they impose conditions upon us."
Bani said earlier this week that an estimated "95
percent of Libya is under rebel control". But scattered pockets
of loyalist diehards battled opposition fighters hunting for
Gaddafi and his sons.
FEARS QAEDA THRIVING IN LIBYAN CHAOS
Algeria has said it believes the chaos inside Libya, and
large quantities of weapons circulating there, are being
exploited by al Qaeda's North African branch, al Qaeda in the
Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
The NTC has rejected assertions that it has been infiltrated
by al Qaeda or other Islamist militants.
Algeria expects an apology from the rebels over their
allegation that it supported Gaddafi in the conflict, the
government source said.
"Algeria does not recognise the NTC as it is a transitional
institution as its name indicates. Because of this we will only
recognise the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people
once they themselves pick their leaders," said the source.
"Algeria hopes the new Libyan authorities respect treaties
and conventions between the two countries, notably on security."
Algeria, a major energy exporter, is still recovering from
nearly two decades of conflict between security forces and
Islamist militant groups that, at its peak in the 1990s, killed
an estimated 200,000 people.
More than 30 countries recognise the NTC as the legitimate
representative of Libya.
"We do not get involved in the internal affairs of other
countries. We were careful at the start of the revolutions in
Tunisia and Egypt but later recognised their new governments
once the people there made their choices clear," the source
said. "It will be the same for Libya."
(Additional reporting by Isabel Coles in Dubai; Writing by
Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Mark Heinrich)