6 February 2013

Algeria: Nation Boosts Security At Mali Border

Algiers — The Algerian army is reinforcing its presence to prevent infiltration by jihadists.

Algeria just deployed reinforcements to the Mali border to bar fleeing militants from entering the country.

The army is working to secure the entire border with war-torn Mali, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal confirmed to parliament on Sunday (February 3rd).

Algeria had already closed its border at the start of the war. To prevent any attacks similar to the In Amenas gas complex siege, ANP troops were also dispatched to secure oil installations.

"It's about preventing the infiltration of terrorist groups," a Tamanrasset parliamentarian told AFP. "Without these reinforcements, there would have been terrorist incursions from northern Mali," Mohamed Baba Ali said.

Residents of Tin Zaouatene, Timiaouine and Tawendert are fearful because "a war is taking place near them", the MP added.

As French air strikes continue, armed Islamists are fleeing to the Adrar des Ifoghas region, near the Algerian border. The mountainous area is a stronghold for Ansar al-Din, MUJAO and al-Qaeda fighters forced to quit Malian cities.

"They can only stay there long-term if they have ways to replenish their supplies. So the army, in a very efficient manner, is stopping them from doing so," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

Algerian security reports had warned that the hundreds of al-Qaeda militants and armed Islamists who fled Mali would likely head towards the border.

Algerian officials issued calls to address security threats.

"The situation in the region requires concerted efforts by Algerians around one goal with which no two can disagree, the protection of our country from any danger," National People's Assembly (APN) President Larbi Ould Khelifa told legislators on Sunday.

"Cross-border terrorism is like a snake with multiple heads and constant vigilance is the only way to prevent its evils," he added.

The daily El Khabar reported that the army decided to deal with any border infiltration attempt according to the rules of engagement, i.e. to fire without warning.

In tandem with the security measures at the border, the authorities launched a series of meetings with officials and locals on the border to listen to their concerns.

Agriculture Minister Rachid Benaissa, Water Resources Minister Hocine Necib and other officials attended a meeting on Sunday in Adrar province to reassure civilians.

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