Libya faces 'impossible' task of shutting desert frontiers
Libya's decision to shut its desert frontiers is a 'tall order' for its fledgling army, which is ill-equipped to seal largely uninhabited Saharan wastes stretching more than 4,000 kilometers.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan told the national assembly that the measure requires further study and warned that 'rash decisions should not be made when we are incapable of implementing them'.
According to news 24, assembly members voted on Sunday to order the closure of Libya's borders with Chad, Niger, Sudan and Algeria.
They also declared martial law in the vast desert south, citing mounting unrest across the Sahel region, the report said.
The foreign ministry said that the decision was made in coordination with the countries concerned, following a regional tour by the prime minister to discuss boosting joint action against 'terrorists' following the seizure of northern Mali by Al-Qaeda-linked militants, it added.
Libya plans to establish one authorised border crossing with each of the four neighbours, army spokesperson Ali al-Sheikhi said.
"Any person who enters or exits at other points will be considered an infiltrator," he added.
According to the report, with West African governments now pushing for intervention to evict the jihadists from northern Mali, Libya and its neighbours, particularly Algeria, fear the fighters and weapons made be sent streaming back north across the Sahara.
"Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb got themselves more ensconced in the top of Mali. The threat that all governments in the region are worrying about is that it blows back the other way," Mark said.