World Bulletin / News Desk
Algeria has identified drug trafficking as a top national security threat linked to militancy in the region and put its powerful army in charge of fighting it, interior minister Daho Ould Kablia said.
"We are waging a war. It is a war against a new form of terrorism: drugs trafficking," Ould Kablia told the APS state news agency late on Wednesday.
A top energy supplier to Europe and an important player in the fight against the spread of militancy in the Sahara, Algeria is concerned about the link between extremism and rising drugs trafficking particularly in the Sahel region of North Africa.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on an Algerian gas plant in January, used to provide security to drug traffickers in Algeria in return for money, a security source knowledgeable about militancy in Algeria's Sahara said.
Putting the army in charge sends a strong signal that Algeria is taking the problem seriously, observers said. Fighting drug trafficking was formerly the job of the National Gendarmerie, Customs, and Border Patrol.
"Smuggling provides armed groups and AQIM (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) in the Sahara the financial means to buy weapons, and hire new militants," security expert and editor of Ennahar Anis Rahmani told Reuters.
"Obviously the only force capable to counter the growing smuggling activity that includes drugs trafficking is the Algerian army."
Nearly 78 tonnes of cannabis resin were seized during the first 6 months of 2013 versus 71 tonnes during the same period last year, according to the National Office for the Fight Against Drugs and Addiction.
Most of the cannabis and cannabis resin come from neighboring Morocco, Algerian officials say.
"We consider that drugs trafficking is now Algeria's number one security threat, and terrorism is in the second position," a top security official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
The disturbances were the latest to rock the northern province of Al-Hoceima since the death of a local fishmonger in a garbage truck last October sparked nationwide protests.
The meeting on Tuesday night comes ahead of Abbas's expected visit to the White House in April and after Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt held wide-ranging talks in Israel and the Palestinian territories earlier this month.
Tim Barrow, wearing a waistcoat and dark suit and carrying a leather briefcase, left Britain's EU embassy in Brussels and stepped into a dark Jaguar car.
Manuel Valls says his first-round backing for independent Emmanuel Macron is to block far-right leader Marine Le Pen
Ahmed Kathrada had openly criticised the current African National Congress (ANC) government of Zuma, which has been accused of corruption, mismanagement and of failing black South Africans.
Michael Cummings reverted to Islam after Trump's election, read his journey to Islam.
West Siberian oil is the bedrock of Russia's economy -- the Khanty-Mansi region produced about 240 million tonnes in 2016, over 40 percent of the country's total production.
Over 100,000 people call for First Lady to foot security bill or move to Washington
The new Trump wall has not only divided the US but it has raised fears that it will divide a Native American tribe
The annual NATO foreign ministers talks in Brussels were brought forward at the last minute after Tillerson warned he would not be able to attend on the long-planned date.
Theresa May has signed the Article 50 letter to trigger Brexit of which the letter is expected to offer some room for manoeuvre in negotiations.
Workers ambushed by gunman on way to build youth centers
Devin Nunes says he will not stand down over alleged ties to White House as committee probes Russia links
Several senators have framed Montenegro's accession as nothing less than a test of resolve against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The British-born wife of François Fillon has been formally put under investigation in the fake jobs scandal that has poisoned her husband’s political career.