Libya has deported more than 500 African immigrants as it tries to tackle an influx of refugees and Islamist militants into the country, its state news agency, Lana, reported.

Western powers fear Libya has become a safe haven for al Qaeda fighters as its government struggles to rein in militias and former rebels who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi two years ago.

Weak border controls and a small army lacking training and equipment have turned Libya into weapons smuggling route for al Qaeda in sub-Saharan countries and a transit route for Islamist fighters heading to Syria’s civil war.

Reuters said people traffickers also use the remote desert borders with Egypt, Sudan, Niger and Chad to smuggle refugees into Libya from where many try to reach Europe by boat.

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The report added that Libyan authorities deported 350 illegal immigrants to Niger and 208 to Chad via its remote al-Tum crossing.

It said a total of 4,875 illegal immigrants of various nationalities were being held in detention centres in Libya.


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