Three Libyan fighters killed in clashes with smugglers near Algerian border

Three Libyan fighters killed in clashes with smugglers near Algerian border
Three Libyan fighters killed in clashes with smugglers near Algerian border

Three Libyan fighters from a Tripoli-based military force were killed during clashes with smugglers and drug traffickers in the desert near the border with Algeria, the force said in a statement Tuesday.

The 444th Brigade said the clashes “were violent and lasted for hours,” adding that they “prevented the smuggling of approximately 5 million narcotics tablets.”

The brigade carries out patrols in the south of the city and in other towns to combat contraband. It is one of the most powerful military forces in Tripoli.

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

The brigade posted images on its verified Facebook page showing patrols in the desert and piles of cardboard boxes containing drug samples in the form of white-red pills.

The images also show two suspected smugglers sitting on their knees with their hands above their heads, surrounded by the brigade’s fighters.

Libyan authorities have already worked with their African counterparts to resolve the smuggling problem. A workshop held in Tripoli over the past two days by Libyan intelligence chief Hussain Al-Ayeb with African security and intelligence officials resulted in an agreement to “strengthen coordination, combat smuggling and drying up its sources of financing,” the media department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a message to journalists.

The message said that officials, specialists and security experts from 26 countries participated in the workshop.

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