ALGIERS - Algeria has arrested 200 Syrians who had been hoping to reach Italy with the help of Libyan Islamists. The Libyan had promised to smuggle them by boat, a security source said on Tuesday.
Algeria, like other countries in North Africa, is worried that militant Islamists are exploiting Libya's chaos to smuggle weapons, train fighters and send migrants to Europe -- possibly to bring in cash to fund their operations.
Algeria has closed its land border with Libya and reinforced its military presence in the south.
Libya is a major transit point for migrants from sub-Saharan countries and refugees from conflict zones such as Syria or Sudan. Italy says more than 100,000 migrants have reached its shores by boat this year.
The Syrians, including 20 children and 10 women, were stopped Monday in the village of Oued LaFalemga near the Libyan border, according to the source who asked not to be named.