- - Sunday, December 16, 2012

TRIPOLI — Libya ordered the closure of its borders with four of its neighbors Sunday as it declared martial law in its vast desert south in the face of mounting unrest, state media reported.

The National Assembly ordered the “temporary closure of the land borders with Chad, Niger, Sudan and Algeria pending new regulations” on the circulation of people and goods, said a decree carried by the official LANA news agency.

“The provinces of Ghadames, Ghat, Obari, Al-Shati, Sebha, Murzuq and Kufra are considered as closed military zones to be ruled under emergency law,” the decree stipulated.

It gave the Defense Ministry powers to appoint a military governor with authority to arrest fugitives from justice, and to detain and deport illegal immigrants.

Assembly member Suad Ganur, who represents the southern city of Sebha, said the border closure was a “temporary measure” that would last only “until security has been restored.”

She said there had been an “increase in the flow of illegal immigrants in the expectation of eventual international military action in Mali” against al Qaeda-linked rebels, who have seized much of the north of the country.

She said the move also was in response to an “upsurge in violence and drug trafficking, and the presence of armed groups that act with complete impunity.”


Bombings kill 8 in cities in disputed northern area

BAGHDAD — Bombings rattled two cities in disputed areas in Iraq’s north on Sunday, killing at least eight people and raising concerns that extremists are trying to exploit ethnic tensions in the country.

The deadliest series of blasts struck Shiite Muslim targets in the disputed northern city of Kirkuk.

Police Maj. Imad Qadir, who is responsible for the Kirkuk city hospital’s security, said those attacks killed six people and wounded 36.

Kirkuk is 180 miles north of Baghdad and is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen. Each of the ethnic groups has competing claims to the oil-rich area.

The Kurds want to incorporate it into their self-ruled region in Iraq’s north, but Arabs and Turkomen are opposed.

The city is at the center of a broader dispute between Iraq’s central government and the Kurdish minority over contested areas where both seek influence.

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