Libya rebels deny arming Algeria captors

File photo shows rebel fighters posing near the Libyan city of Zintan.

Libya’s former Zintan rebels have denied claims by an Algerian daily that they sold arms to hostage takers at a natural gas installation in eastern Algeria.

“We deny the information published by the Algerian newspaper Echorouk accusing Zintan revolutionaries of having sold weapons used by terrorists,” the military council of the Libyan city of Zintan said in a statement issued on Thursday.

Echorouk reported on Wednesday that “the first interrogations of the three terrorists captured by security services have revealed that rebels in Zintan were behind the sale of the arms used against the gas plant.”

On January 16, a militant group known as the Signed-in-Blood Battalion launched an assault on the In Amenas facility, killing an Algerian and a Briton and taking several gas workers hostage at the complex.

The Signed-in-Blood Battalion said the hostage-taking incident was carried out in reprisal for the French-led war in Mali.

In a statement, the former rebels also condemned “the terrorist attack that targeted the interests and security of the Algerian people.”

Zintan rebels were among the first groups to enter the Libyan capital Tripoli in August 2011, seizing a large military arsenal abandoned by the troops of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said on Monday that 37 foreigners of eight nationalities were killed in the hostage crisis, which ended on January 19.