Three Libyan fighters killed in clashes near Algeria border

Libya’s military has been attempting to crackdown on illegal trade around the border areas for years [file/GETTY]

Three Libyan fighters of a military force based in Tripoli were killed in clashes with smugglers and drug dealers in the desert near the border with Algeria, the force said in a statement on Tuesday.

The force, 444 Brigade, said the clashes “were heated and lasted for hours,” adding that they “had thwarted smuggling approximately 5 million narcotic pills.”

The brigade has patrols in the south of the city and other towns combating smuggling. It is among the strongest military forces in Tripoli.

Since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, smugglers have been able to make vast profits by exploiting a security vacuum in Libya.

The brigade posted on its verified Facebook page footage showing patrols in the desert and piles of cardboard boxes with samples of drugs of white-red pills on top of them.

The footage also showed two suspected smugglers sitting on their knees with their hands above their heads surrounded by the brigade fighters.

Libyan officials already have been working with African counterparts to address the issue of smuggling. A workshop held in Tripoli over the past two days, organised by the Libyan intelligence chief, Hussain Al-Ayeb, and with African security and intelligence officials, reached an agreement to “increase coordination, combating smuggling and drying up its sources of financing,” the foreign affairs ministry media department told journalists in a message.

The message said the workshop included officials, specialists and security experts from 26 countries. 


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