TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan authorities will not allow the country to be used as a launch pad for attacks that threaten the security of its neighbors, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on Saturday.
In the chaos since Muammar Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, Libya’s vast desert south has become a smuggling route for weapons which have reached al Qaeda militants deeper in the Sahara.
“Libya will not allow anyone to threaten the safety and security of its neighbors,” Zeidan told reporters.
Libya shares a border with Algeria where an attack on a desert gas complex this week swiftly turned into one of the biggest international hostage crises in decades, pushing Saharan militancy to the top of the global agenda.
The Algeria crisis marks a serious escalation of unrest in northwestern Africa, where French forces have been in Mali since last week fighting an Islamist takeover of Timbuktu and other towns.
Zeidan denied media reports the southwestern Al-Waigh military base, close to Libya’s border with Niger, had been used “to launch attacks on neighboring countries” but did not give further details.
Plagued by violence, drugs, weapons trafficking and an influx of illegal immigrants, Libya’s new rulers last month announced they would temporarily close its borders with Algeria, Niger, Chad and Sudan to clamp down on lawlessness in its vast desert south.
Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Editing by Sophie Hares