The Sahel region of North Africa continues to be engaged in a battle with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Fresh bombings and skirmishes in the desert have occurred over the past fortnight.
Early, Saturday, July 16, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in his car in front of central police station at Bordj-Menaiel, 70 kilometres (45 miles) east of Algiers. Soon afterwards, another suicide terrorist drove his motorbike into a crowd near the town hall, killing a police officer, a local official and sending fourteen people to the hospital. Half of the wounded were police and paramilitary. The explosion destroyed a section of the town hall and caused damage to nearby buildings.
On the following Wednesday a bomb attack at an army base near Baghlia, in the same region, killed two soldiers and wounded six more, the Algerian press reported Saturday. After the suicide bombs were detonated, the army took a fierce gun battle to insurgents camped a few miles away.
Despite the recent attacks in Algeria, Mali and Mauritania the two hardest-hit by AQIM activities. Mauritania’s recent success against the terrorists caused the head of United States African Command (AFRICOM), General Carter Ham, to publicly congratulate Mauritania for its successes in its confrontations with AQIM. Mauritania has for the past year carried out military operations against AQIM stronghold in northern Mali. On June 24 the Mauritanian army destroyed an Al-Qaeda camp in a raid in western Mali near the border with Mauritania. A week ago six AQIM terrorists were killed while they were attacking a Mauritanian army base which is home to a specialist anti-terrorist unit.
Three units of Malian forces are currently building defenses in the Wagadou forest due to the expectation of a counter attack by AQIM. Two surveillance aircraft, given to them by France, carry out surveillance sorties everyday.
Keeping al-Qaeda out has become the Mauritania and Mali’s greatest security concern. AQIM not only carries out bombings, it is also involved in arms and drugs trafficking.