Mali - Mauritania - Niger - Algeria

Shared north African anti-terror intelligence centre planned

Intelligence chiefs from four north African countries met in Algiers on Wednesday to set up a shared intelligence-gathering centre as part of the fight against Al Qaeda in the region.

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Intelligence chiefs from Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Algeria attended the meeting, according to the AFP news agency.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) is active in all four countries, operating across their desert borders in the Sahel, a band of territory between the Sahara desert to the north and grasslands to the south.

There is reported to be basic agreement between the four participants that the centre should be based in Algiers.

The talks came three days after a meeting of army chiefs of the four countries in Tamanrasset in the south of Algeria, where they discussed stepping up the struggle against Aqim.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika speaking at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday condemned nations who pay ransom to rebel groups, saying the money fuelled the spread of the problem.

France was sharply criticised in Algeria in February after Frenchman Pierre Camatte was freed after three months in captivity when Al Qaida demands for the release of four detained Islamists were met.

France has said that it is willing to talk to Al Qaeda about the release of French hostages captured in September.

 

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