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.
A gunman who shot a Canadian soldier in Ottawa was chased by police into the center block of parliament, and 30 more shots were fired inside the building, an eyewitness told Reuters
A 13-year-old boy was detained after hurling stones at Israeli cars in the Al-Tur neighborhood, three other Palestinian boys, aged between 14 and 16, were detained for throwing rocks at Israeli police vehicles in the Beit Hanina district.
Iranian demonstrators gather in front of Isfahan Department of Justice building to protest acid attacks against women in the street.
The Ansar al-Sharia group wrote on Twitter that its fighters had killed 30 Houthi militants in attacks on their homes in Rada'a city on Tuesday.
Iraq's Kurdish parliament unanimously votes to deploy Peshmerga forces in Syrian town of Kobani besieged by ISIL militants.
The attack sparked clashes between the settlers and local residents, which ended upon the arrival of Israeli army troops.
Palestinian negotiators still studying Egypt's proposed agenda for the upcoming talks.
Ozdil Nami warns of increasing tensions after Greek Cypriot Administration, Israel and Russia conduct military drills between Crete and Cyprus
There were no immediate reports on the number of casualties from the fighting there, but the militant advance appears to have been halted.
Crowds gathered at the U.N. base calling for peacekeepers to leave the town after two people were shot dead on Tuesday during a protest
The accused leader of the group, a Qatari man, was sentenced to 30 years in jail, after which he would be expelled from Saudi Arabia, while the other 12 were jailed for between 18 months and 18 years
Zoabi said the Syrian air force was searching for the third jet but had destroyed two of them, the first time Damascus has acknowledged that ISIL are flying the aircraft.
A coalition of 13 Yemeni opposition parties insists that the recommendations – which came out of a national dialogue conference held earlier this year – be implemented.
A handful of extremist settlers – also under Israeli police protection – performed Talmudic rituals near the Al-Rahmeh Gate, according to the Palestinian official.
Members of the European Parliament have voted in favor of a new European Commission under the leadership of Jean-Claude Juncker.
Cuba is sending the largest medical contingent to West Africa from any country in the world