ALGIERS – The arms used by militants who seized an Algerian gas plant in a deadly hostage-taking drama came from Libyan rebels who overthrew Moammar Gadhafi last year, an Algerian newspaper reported Wednesday.
“The first interrogations of the three terrorists captured by security services have revealed that rebels in Zintan (southwest Libya) were behind the sale of the arms used against the gas plant,” the Echorouk daily reported.
Algeria has said 37 foreigners of eight nationalities and one Algerian were killed in the four-day siege, which ended Saturday in a rescue operation by security forces.
The militants’ chief, Algerian Mohamed Lamine Bencheneb, who was killed in the assault, negotiated the sale of Kalashnikov assault rifles for $500 a piece and rockets priced at $800, according to Echorouk.
A source in Libya said Tuesday the militants also received logistical aid from Islamists in Libya. “Logistical support was provided from Libya,” said the source close to hardline Islamist groups in Libya, which has seen a rise in extremism since the fall of Gadhafi.
The source did not specify the exact nature of the aid but acknowledged that Libyan Islamists were also responsible for establishing contacts between the captors and the media.
The Tunisian daily El Watan, meanwhile, reported that “the operation was organized and prepared in Libya. Only some elements came from northern Mali to reinforce the group.” Their heavy arms came from Libya, “where tons of weaponry were dropped by French aircraft during the uprising against Gadhafi,” it said, quoting Tunisian security sources.