Mauritania says kills six “terrorists” in clashes

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Mauritania said yesterday its security forces had killed six “terrorists” and wounded many others in clashes by its border with Mali earlier this week.

The army statement carried by the state news agency did not explicitly say those killed were al Qaeda fighters. But its use of the term terrorists will reinforce speculation that the confrontation was the latest involving al Qaeda’s North African franchise, AQIM.
“There are strong indications that a large number of terrorists were also wounded,” the statement said of Tuesday’s clash around the town of Bassiknou, adding the fighting started when security forces intercepted an enemy attack on the town involving a convoy of more than 20 vehicles.

Two Mauritanian security sources confirmed separately that the Mauritanian army had been tipped off about the Bassiknou attack by French intelligence coming from Mali.

Countries in Africa’s Sahel-Sahara region are battling an increased threat from gunmen linked to al Qaeda’s north African franchise, who frequently operate alongside rebel groups, bandits and traffickers in the huge, largely desert zone.

The clash comes just over a week after Mauritania said 15 al Qaeda fighters were killed and nine captured in a joint operation with Mali in the Wagadou forest by their border.

It said two of its soldiers died from wounds sustained in the Wagadou fighting, while an unverified statement purporting to be from AQIM said over 20 Mauritanian soldiers were killed.