Mali arrests four al Qaeda members near Algeria


Mali‘s armed forces captured four members of al Qaeda’s North African wing after a clash this week near the border with Algeria, a security source said on Friday.

The source in Mali’s capital Bamako said the clash happened on April 26 about 60 km (40 miles) from Algeria, in a remote area of the Sahara desert where a mixture of traffickers, nomadic Tuareg rebels and Islamist gunmen operate, Reuters reports.

“It was an army patrol that stopped a Toyota 4×4 with four men aboard. After an exchange of fire, the four men, all slightly wounded, were arrested,” the source said, adding that they were from Algeria, Ghana, Mali and Mauritania.

Al Qaeda’s North African wing claimed responsibility for kidnapping four Western tourists and two Canadian diplomats in December and January in the West African desert.

The diplomats and two of the tourists were freed last month, but two men from Britain and Switzerland are still being held. Al Qaeda has said it will kill the British hostage this month if Britain does not release a Jordanian Islamist it is holding.

Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure said after the hostage release last month it was time to take action and end insecurity across the Sahara and Sahelian region of West Africa.