Washington DC (April 11) – As Libyan opposition leaders today rejected a peace proposal by the African Union that fails to include removal of Moammar Qaddafi, Agence France Press (AFP) is reporting that the Libyan rebels have captured 15 mercenaries from Algeria and rebel leaders are accusing Algeria of failing to prevent mercenaries from crossing into Libya to help the Qaddafi regime cling to power.
According to AFP, Libyan rebels said Sunday they had captured 15 mercenaries who identified themselves as Algerians. Rebel leaders said they also captured a local supporter of the Qaddafi regime, who was serving as guide to the mercenaries, during a battle in the eastern Libya town of Ajdabiya.
Commenting on the capture, rebel spokesperson Shamsiddin Abdulmolah accused Algeria—one of only two Arab League countries to vote against the international coalition effort to protect Libyan civilians—of backing Qaddafi and ―turning a blind eye‖ to mercenaries crossing the border to help Qaddafi quash the rebellion. “It’s sad,” he told AFP, “the same kind of dictatorship we have here, they have over there” in Algeria.
Algeria put out a statement to AFP Sunday “categorically” denying any involvement in “this alleged mercenary operation.”
“The Libyan rebels need more than denials from neighboring countries of complicity in helping Qaddafi bring in these mercenaries to suppress his own people—they need it to stop,” said Robert M. Holley, Executive Director, Moroccan American Center for Policy. “Continued evidence that the fight for democracy in Libya is being undermined by outside marauders for hire should be of great concern to the international community. It is difficult enough for the rebels to fight off Qaddafi’s regular army, even with the UN- sanctioned no-fly zone in place. Algeria needs to make a serious, concerted effort to ensure that its citizens are not crossing the border as paid thugs to support one of the most brutal dictators in the world.”
Morocco continues to provide humanitarian assistance to support the Libyan people’s efforts to achieve greater democracy. It was a key supporter in the 20-2 Arab League vote in favor of an internationally sanctioned no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from being slaughtered by Qaddafi’s military forces.
* For an English version of the AFP story, via News24, go to: http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/15-Algerian-mercenaries-seized-in-Libya-20110410
* For the French version of the AFP story, go to: http://www.algerie360.com/algerie/les-rebelles-libyens-disent-detenir-15-mercenaires-algeriens-et-en-avoir-tue-trois/
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