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.
Ukranian separatist leader says talks will not go ahead on Sunday and a date is yet to be set.
The agency assists 48 different African countries and is supported by the European Union.
Carmakers have scaled back business as collapsing oil prices and sanctions over Ukraine push Russia into recession
Several others were injured and sustained gunshot wounds and two young Palestinian men were transferred to a Ramallah hospital
Nuclear deal runs until June 30 after two extensions, and has been designed to buy time for talks on final settlement, with IAEA confirming Iran adhering to terms of accord.
Hamas welcomed the support of Iran saying Arabs are just spectators to the Judaization of Jerusalem by Israel.
Birmingham based ‘Islamic Help’ and the London based Muslim Charities Forum have lost their government grants but will consider decision to appeal DCLG decision.
Obama's annual speech to congress will outline his priorities for the following year.
Serbia's foreign minister expresses disappointment over the gas pipeline's cancellation.
Lukashenko and Poroshenko will meet on Sunday, in Kiev; Belarus's official news agency Belta reported
A Pakistani Taliban group has said it will kill more children if the government went ahead with plans to hang a key terrorist commander
Armed rebels throw a bomb at an army patrol, continuing previous day attacks on Seiyun. Army Lieutenant killed but attack yet to be claimed by any group
Ban Ki-moon has pledged support for Liberia as the country recovers from the Ebola epidemic
Modi's government hoping to sway US companies to enter Indian market ahead of Obama visit next month.
Ten members of pro-Damascus Arabic Socialist Baath Party were arrested after found being involved in kidnapping of opponents of regime.
Sanctions not intended to weaken Russian economy 'but to effectuate a change in relations,' says German foreign ministry spokeswoman