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Al Qaeda attacks army base close to Mali border

Members of al Qaeda’s north African branch attacked an army base in south Mauritania close to the border with Mali Tuesday, military sources reported. There were no reports of casualties after the attack.


AFP - Members of Al-Qaeda's north African branch on Tuesday attacked an army base near Bassiknou in southern Mauritania close to the border with Mali, a military source told AFP.

"Many terrorist vehicles took part in the attack. The national army followed them and took the initiative against them," the source said on condition of anonymity.

She said military aircraft did battle with members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) during the attack "which lasted less than an hour."

No casualty toll was available, and the source said a nearby hospital had not admitted any injured an hour after the fighting.

The gunfire and explosions were heard by inhabitants of the town, and Mauritanian public television confirmed the attack.

"Terrorist elements attacked one of our bases on Tuesday afternoon and after a counter-strike from the base the criminals fled towards Mali where they are currently being pursued," said the broadcast.

The attack comes shortly after the Mauritanian army on June 24 destroyed an AQIM base during a raid in the Wagadou forest in north-eastern Mali.

The Mauritanian army said the base had housed heavy anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons which posed a threat to the country, and reported the deaths of 15 AQIM members and two Mauritanian soldiers.

On Monday, AQIM released a statement saying at least 20 Mauritanian soldiers were killed and 12 army vehicles destroyed in the raid.

AQIM once again accused Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of fighting "a proxy war on behalf of France", calling on Mauritanians to denounce this war, learn from their losses and "and save themselves from a war which is not theirs".

Mali and Mauritania are among the countries hardest-hit by AQIM activities, along with Niger and Algeria, where the organisation has its roots. The nations work closely together in efforts to crack down on the organisation.

Since July 2010, Mauritania has carried out military operations on AQIM camps in Mali.

AQIM is holding four French citizens kidnapped in Niger in September 2010 as well as an Italian woman taken hostage in Algeria in February.


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