The big regional story this week was the announcement from Chadian forces that on 2nd March they had conducted an operation in Northern Mali to destroy a terrorist camp and in the process had killed the mastermind of the Algerian Al Amenas refinery attack, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, along with several others. This is a significant blow to the extremist Al-Qaeda affiliated movement in the Islamic Maghreb if confirmed as correct.
In Libya itself there have been a number of flare-ups of inter-tribal and militias in-fighting over the week. The most concerning led to Eni suspending gas exports to Italy from its Mellitah complex for two days. Exports have since been resumed on 4th March.
Religiously motivated tensions and violence continues in Benghazi with the attack on a Coptic Christian church on 28th February and the arrest and subsequent deporting of some 50-100 Egyptian Coptics. The four individuals - an Egyptian, a South African, a Korean and a Swede travelling on a U.S. passport - previously arrested and charged with proselytising continue to be held. This is all part of a seemingly orchestrated campaign to drive out the remaining small pockets of Christians who have always lived in Benghazi.
Finally, this week also saw a visit of Scottish Police detectives and prosecutors to investigate the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie. Mohmet al-Megrahi, the only individual convicted of the bombing died of cancer in May last year.
Tripolitania and Tripoli
The trouble at the Eni and the Libya National Oil Corporation operated Mellitah complex started on 2nd March with an exchange of fire between former fighters from Zuwara and Zintan over who should be guarding the critical gas complex. The Army has moved to secure the complex and exports have now resumed. This incident is the latest in a number of disruptions to Libya’s vital energy industry.