Niger Army clashes with group from Libya

Niger`s Army intercepted a convoy of cars travelling south from Libya toward Mali, and a cache of arms was seized.

Last Updated: Nov 09, 2011, 21:36 PM IST

Niamey (Niger): Niger`s Army intercepted a
convoy of cars travelling south from Libya toward Mali, and a
cache of arms was seized in the ensuing clash, the ministry of
defence said today.

It was not immediately clear if the fighters were part of
Muammar Gaddafi`s fleeing entourage, but the direction in
which the heavily armed convoy was travelling is the same
route that was used last month by Gaddafi`s intelligence
chief, who is believed to be hiding in the remote dunes of
Mali.

The statement by Defence Minister Mahamadou Karidio
published in local newspapers today said that one Nigerien
soldier was killed and four wounded during the clash on
Sunday.

The army seized two 14.5 mm, and four 12.7 mm machine
guns, two ML-49 and three M-80 machine guns, rocket-propelled
grenades, and ammunition, the statement said.
The army also found a Thuraya satellite phone and seized
six Toyota pickup trucks, as well as several prisoners.

Security experts have warned that arms traffickers could try
to pilfer the armories left behind by Gaddafi`s retreating
army and transport them across the ungoverned desert
separating Libya from Niger and Mali.

The corridor has been used by arms smugglers and drug
traffickers for decades, and is also where an al Qaeda-linked
cell operates. Military experts are especially worried about
Gaddafi`s stockpile of surface-to-air missiles, many of which
have an infrared homing device which would allow a fighter to
simply aim it in the general direction of a passing plane to
take it down.

Earlier this summer, the Niger military clashed with
another convoy in the same region, this one loaded with
explosives.

Bureau Report