Mali: Mauritanian soldiers clashed with al-Qaeda’s North African wing (AQIM) at border and inside Mali territory
Mauritanian soldiers have clashed with suspected fighters from al-Qaeda’s North African wing (AQIM) in Mali, two days after several foreign nationals were abducted in the region.
The fighting began on Saturday on the Mauritania-Mali border but then moved on to Malian territory, Mauritanian security sources said.
The sources told Al Jazeera that at least 12 AQIM members were killed and several more were injured. On the Mauritanian side, five soldiers were killed and five injured.
“We are presently in Malian territory and engaged in full combat,” a Mauritanian security source told the AFP news agency.
Hamdi Uld-el Hassen, a freelance journalist in Mauritania’s capital, Nouakchott, said the violence is a sign that Mauritania is stepping up its fight against al-Qaeda.
“This was the first palpable challenge to al-Qaeda,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Mauritania now is strengthening the military presence along the Malian border and that was a tangible message to al-Qaeda that Mauritania will not stay like it was in the past - waiting to be targeted by al-Qaeda.