Libya Seals Southern Border, Police Attacked in Benghazi
Libya’s General National Congress announced that it would temporarily close the country’s borders with Niger, Chad, Sudan and Algeria. Additionally, the GNC passed legislation designating the areas around Ghadamis, Ghat, Awbari, Al-Shati, Sebha, Murzuq and Kufra as closed zones of military operations. The southern territories of Libya have been prone to smuggling, violence, and general instability since the 2011 uprising. An anonymous Libyan military official said the government’s main concern is the illegal flow of weapons. The U.S. State Department announced last week that it provided funding to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to conduct training for 13 officials from the Libyan Ministry of Defense and the Customs Authority, specifically dealing with arms trafficking.
Meanwhile, two police stations in Benghazi were the targets of a what appeared to be a simultaneous coordinated attack. Officials said they thought the attack was linked to the detention of men suspected of involvement in a series of recent assassinations. On December 16, another police station took RPG fire, killing one police officer. An ensuing gun battle left three more policeman dead.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will forego committee hearings on the Benghazi U.S. consulate attack due to health issues. “Deputy Secretaries of State William Burns and Thomas Nides will testify to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Mrs. Clinton’s place on Thursday,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). However, answering tough questions about the attack “requires a public appearance by the secretary of state herself,” she added.