Niger army clashes with Libyan convoy —Qaddafi arms bound for AQIM?
Niger's military clashed Nov. 7 with a heavily armed convoy travelling though the desert from Libya. Thirteen of the convoy's gunmen were killed and several captured. Authorities said they believed the convoy is made up of fleeing Qaddafi loyalists escorted by local Tuareg fighters, and headed for Mali. A huge weapons cache, including machine guns and rockets, was seized in the clashes in the Arlit area. Northern Niger's Radio Nomad reported that local traffickers are selling Libyan arms to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). (BBC News, Nov. 9)
That same day, AQIM leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar boasted in an interview with the Mauritanian news agency ANI that his network has received Libyan arms. "We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world," said Belmokhtar, an Algerian national. "As for our acquisition of Libyan armament, that is an absolutely natural thing." (AFP, Nov. 9)