The Mauritanian army said it had destroyed a camp in neighbouring Mali Friday night that was sheltering militants linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Al Qaeda ’s North African offshoot carries out armed attacks from bases in Mali.
AFP - The Mauritanian army has "completely destroyed" an Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb camp in neighbouring Mali in an assault that left four soldiers wounded, a security source said.
Friday's attack in the forest region of Wagadou in western Mali involved air strikes and was staged in the evening, the Mauritanian source told AFP, adding that the "terrorists" struck back with "heavy arms."
"The definitive toll on the enemy side will only be known at dawn but it will be heavy... The tents of the camp and three vehicles have been destroyed," the source said, adding that two of the wounded soldiers were in serious condition.
"Strong explosions were heard across a 20-kilometre radius, probably heavy weapons stocked in the camp," the source continued. "We are in control of the situation and the zone has been secured."
The attack took place around 5:45 pm (1745 GMT), according to the source.
Several military sources had earlier said AQIM was trying to set up a new base in the Wagadou region.
The attack was confirmed by a Malian soldier, Captain Ousmane Diarra, who said the fighting was "very fierce."
Earlier this month, Mali and Mauritania agreed to lead a joint military operation to thwart Al-Qaeda's north African offshoot. The operation involves hundreds of soldiers.
AQIM members have been regularly spotted in the region, suggesting it has become a base for the group.
Mali and Mauritania have previously expressed concerns about the activities of the group, along with Nigeria and Algeria.
AQIM, which has its roots in Algeria, has bases in Mali, from where it carries out armed attacks and kidnappings, particularly of Westerners, and is a party in arms and drugs trafficking.