THE Mauritanian army has “completely destroyed” an al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) camp in neighbouring Mali in an assault that left four soldiers wounded, a security source said.
Friday’s attack in the forest region of Wagadou in western Mali involved air strikes and was staged in the evening, the source told AFP, adding that the “terrorists” struck back with “heavy arms”.
“The definitive toll on the enemy side will only be known at dawn but it will be heavy…. The tents of the camp and three vehicles have been destroyed,” the source said, adding that two of the wounded soldiers were in serious condition.
“Strong explosions were heard across a 20km radius, probably heavy weapons stocked in the camp.”
The attack took place around 5.45pm (3.45am AEST Saturday), according to the source.
Several military sources had earlier said AQIM was trying to set up a new base in the Wagadou region.
Earlier this month, Mali and Mauritania agreed to lead a joint military operation to thwart al-Qaeda’s north African offshoot. The operation involves hundreds of soldiers.
AQIM members have been regularly spotted in the region, suggesting it has become a base for the group.
Mali and Mauritania have previously expressed concerns about the activities of the group, along with Nigeria and Algeria.
AQIM, which has its roots in Algeria, has bases in Mali, from where it carries out armed attacks and kidnappings, particularly of Westerners, and is a party in arms and drugs trafficking.