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Nations focus on al-Qaida Sahara terrorism

Nations focus on al-Qaida Sahara terrorism

Foreign ministers of Algeria and neighboring countries began discussions Wednesday over confronting terrorism in the vast desolate spaces of North Africa's Sahara Desert.
High level delegations from France and the United States, including the head of the U.S. African command, Gen. Carter Ham, will also participate in the two-day conference.
Originally expected to focus on the activities of al-Qaida's North African affiliate, the conference has become inextricably tied up to the civil war in neighboring Libya, which Algeria said has sent floods of arms across the border into militant hands.
Algeria is also in an awkward position regarding the new rulers of Libya since it was a close ally of the regime of Moammar Gadhafi and has given refuge to members of his family.
On Aug. 29, a convoy including Gadhafi's wife, daughter and two of his sons crossed the border into Algeria and they are now believed to be residing in the capital.
A second convoy with Gadhafi's top security official crossed from Libya into the territory of another conference participant, Niger, on Monday.
Foreign ministers from Mauritania and Mali will also be attending the conference along with delegations from 38 other countries.
Al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb grew out of the armed groups fighting the Algerian state in the 1990s after 1991 elections were canceled by the military to stave off the victory for an Islamist political party.
The group declared allegiance to al-Qaida in 2006 and changed its name, embarking on a renewed campaign of bombings and kidnappings across the Sahara desert.
In Sept. 1, AQIM announced it had killed 29 members of Algeria's security forces between July and August. It has also kidnapped a dozen foreigners working or visiting the Sahara Desert.
On Aug. 26, AQIM carried out twin suicide bombings on an Algerian military academy in Cherchell that killed 18 people.


Updated : 2021-03-01 18:38 GMT+08:00