[dehai-news] (AFP) Africa's Sahel states to hold security summit


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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Tue Feb 17 2009 - 08:16:52 EST


"AQIM intends to unify armed Islamist groups in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia
as well as emerging groups in countries bordering the Sahara including
Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and
Sudan." Africa's Sahel states to hold security summit

19 hours ago, Feb 17, 2009

BAMAKO (AFP) Leaders of the states in Africa's northern Sahel desert zone
are set to meet in Bamako Thursday for a special security summit, a source
in the Malian foreign ministry told AFP.

Nearly all of the leaders of the six nations that make up the Sahal zone --
Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Algeria, Libya and Chad -- are expected in the
Malian capital for a summit expected to last for "several hours", the source
said.

The Sahel region with vast stretches of inhospitable desert, is notoriously
difficult to control with several armed groups and rebels roaming freely
between the countries.

In the north of Mali and Niger, the authorities have faced uprisings by
Tuareg rebels fighting for autonomy in their traditional independent
homeland.

Followers of Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are also
active in the region.

The group moved two Austrian hostages kidnapped in Tunisia to northern Mali
where they were released last year and claimed responsibility for several
attacks in Mauritania and suicide bombings in Algeria.

AQIM intends to unify armed Islamist groups in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia
as well as emerging groups in countries bordering the Sahara including
Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and
Sudan.

Early January four European tourists attending a Tuareg cultural festival
were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in the Mali Niger border zone. They
have still have not been found and no-one has claimed responsibility.

In December two Canadian diplomats, including the United Nations envoy to
Niger disappeared without a trace in Niger. They are also presumed
kidnapped.

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