4 February 2013

Libya: Nation Vows to Improve Security

Tripoli — The security situation in Libya is recovering, according to Prime Minister Ali Zidan.

A United Nations building in Tripoli was hit by two homemade bombs last week amid continuing concerns about the security situation in Libya.

Two explosive devices were thrown at the unoccupied UN office in the Gurji area of Tripoli on January 29th. One exploded, while police dismantled the other one.

"A bomb blast caused minor damage to the building and broke several windows. A second bomb was found later, and successfully dismantled by Libyan police who arrived quickly and efficiently to the site," said Radhia Achouri, spokeswoman for the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

"The opposition of armed groups to the military intervention in Mali may aggravate the security situation in Libya, especially since there are still about 200,000 armed fighters in the rebel brigades in Libya," UNSMIL chief Tarek Mitri said.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ashour Shuwail said the day following the attack that training for security forces was underway, with 26,000 applicants. He pointed out that training was progressing quickly despite the lack of infrastructure.

He explained that decent work opportunities would be found for rebel leaders and that surveillance cameras would be installed within a month in Tripoli as well as at the entrances of Sebha and Benghazi.

Shuwail also held a recent meeting in Tripoli with the military council and local councils, the Shura Council and rebel leaders during which an agreement was achieved to prepare a joint plan to secure the city of Tripoli and organise public activities.

"The plan includes a ban on carrying guns inside Tripoli as well as a ban on medium and heavy weapons and illegal organizations within the city," Interior Ministry spokesman Majdi al-Orfi said. "It will also activate the role of the traffic police and secure city entrances by manning checkpoints."

At a press conference last Wednesday, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan touched on the Mali situation as well as the In Amenas terror attack, saying Libya co-operated with Algeria on security matters.

"I think that what happened in Algeria could happen anywhere else as well," the Libyan premier added. Zidan explained that the air force, the defence ministry forces and a number of former revolutionaries were now guarding the border.

"Libya is recovering now and it is inaccurate to say that security is lacking in Libya, but there is a partial security flaw that can occur even in other countries, which is natural," Zidan said.

For his part, Libyan businessman Sami Ramzi commented that violent jihadists were exploiting the situation and the devout nature of Libyans.

However, he said Libyan tribes "strongly reject the takfiri jihadist ideas of those militant groups". He specifically pointed to the reaction of residents in al-Bayda and Derna, where he said "jihadist quarters were attacked by the sons of these cities and expelled".

"The same scene took place in Benghazi after the events of the U.S. Embassy. All of the children of Benghazi attacked those battalions and took over their headquarters amid bloody events where the people of Benghazi prevailed," Ramzi said.

He attributed the on-going instability and the emergence of radical groups to "the absence of a constitution and the delay in the formation of the army and police".

Meanwhile, Libyan academic researcher Mohamed Meftahi pointed to the recent arrest of Muhammad Jamal al-Kashif (a.k.a. Abu Ahmad) in Egypt as "an indication of the beginning of the war on al-Qaeda in Libya". Abu Ahmad was reportedly linked to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

"The arrest reflects the commitment of the Libyan government to dry up the sources of terrorism and prevent al-Qaeda from controlling Libyan arms and smuggling them abroad," Meftahi said

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