Spanish security official in Mauritania to discuss Al-Qaeda
Spain's secretary of state for security Antonio Camacho arrived in Mauritania on Tuesday to discuss the fight against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its campaign of kidnapping Westerners.
Shortly after arriving in Nouakchott, Camacho met Mauritania's Interior Minister Mohamed Ould Boilil, an AFP correspondent reported. He was due later to hold talks with President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.
The visit, which would also include Mali and Niger, was "focused on cooperation in the fight against terrorism and organised crime," an official source said, as well as boosting border control.
Three Spanish aid workers were abducted by AQIM in November 2009 in Mauritania and later transferred to Mali. A female hostage was released in March and the other two in August last year after the Spanish state reportedly paid 7 to 8 million euros ($10 to $12 million).
AQIM, the North African branch of Al-Qaeda, operates in a vast desert area across Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger, where it carries out attacks, trafficking and kidnapping of mostly Westerners.
On January 7, AQIM members kidnapped two young Frenchmen from a restaurant in Niamey, the Niger capital. They died the following day near the border with Mali as troops from Niger and France tried to rescue them.
Mauritania launched a vast operation a month ago to hunt down supporters and accomplices of the group.
Camacho was also due to visit Nouadhibou in the northeast to meet members of the Spanish civil guard deployed there to assist Mauritania in combatting illegal immigration.
© 2011 AFP