Al-Qaeda bolstering presence in Libya, Algeria says

Algiers — Algeria is concerned by a noticeably increased Al-Qaeda presence in neighboring Libya and worried militant groups could lay their hands on weapons circulating in the country, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Abdelkader Messahel, Algerian Deputy Foreign Minister said he was worried "particularly through the increasingly noticeable presence of AQIM (Al-Qaeda's north African wing) in Libya and the increasingly noticeable circulation of weapons which can be exploited by terrorist groups."

Addressing a news conference after meeting Britain's Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt, Messahel said a prolonged conflict in Libya risked destabilizing the Sahel region.

"Everybody has noticed, and we are not the only ones, that there are a lot of weapons circulating in Libya and this situation, if it persists, will aggravate the situation in the Sahel," he said.

Messahel stressed Algeria's opposition to foreign military intervention in Libya, which it has said goes beyond the United Nations resolution allowing foreign states to intervene to protect civilians.

"From our point of view, anything which continues for a long time, like violence, like war, will delay a return to stability in this brotherly nation (Libya) and there will certainly be repercussions for the stability and security of the region," he said. "So we, as a neighboring country, want to see a quick return to a solution which is of the Libyans, by the Libyans and for Libya."

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