January 27, 2016 / 12:36 PM / in 2 years

Algeria suspends flights to Libya: aviation authority

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria has suspended flights to Tripoli, a few days after it detained hundreds of Moroccans trying to travel to Libya having arrived at the international airport in the capital Algiers.

Libya has become a regional concern since Islamic State militants gained ground there and called for foreign recruits, especially from North Africa. Algeria is an important U.S. ally in its fight against armed groups in the region.

The decision to suspend flights to Tripoli was taken by the Algerian civilian aviation authority on Tuesday. No reason was given for the suspension.

“The decision will be effective on January 29,” according to a statement from the aviation authority.

Algerian officials did not say when they would resume flights to Tripoli.

The authorities fear that Moroccans entering Algeria to then cross into Libya may be planning to reinforce the Islamic State militant group, which has set up a base in the Libyan city of Sirte, security analysts say.

The decision to suspend the flights was taken hours after the new Libyan prime minister, Fayez Seraj, who heads a U.N.-backed national unity government, traveled to Algeria where he met President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Libya itself is caught in conflict between two rival factions and their armed allies who have established two governments and two competing parliaments. The U.N.-backed unity government is meant to bring the two factions together.

Reporting By Lamine Chikhi; Editing by Patrick Markey and Hugh Lawson

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