Africa-based extremists threaten Europe: EU official

 

* Anti-terror co-ordinator says groups training militants in Mali-based
camps

LUXEMBOURG: Extremist groups are gaining strength in northern and western
Africa and pose an important security threat to the European Union, the EU’s
anti-terror co-ordinator warned on Thursday.

The groups are using training camps in Mali, while trafficking in people,
drugs and vehicles is a major problem in Guinea Bissau and is having
knock-on effects in Mauritania, said Gilles de Kerchove. “None of this is
good for security in the region,” he told reporters, after briefing EU
interior ministers in Luxembourg, adding, “Our security services are worried
about this. It’s on Europe’s doorstep.”

“Even if there is no operational link with Europe, our services believe
there is a logistical link,” he said. The problem may be exacerbated by
rebel Tuaregs, a nomadic people who have roamed the southern Sahara for
centuries, and have staged uprisings in both Mali and neighbouring Niger
claiming autonomy for their traditional homeland. Drug and light arms
trafficking are also common there.

De Kerchove warned the ministers that the EU must strengthen and improve
cooperation with its partners in the Sahel region in northern Niger and
Mali, and he urged them to study which financial options could be used to
help. “A European Union initiative in the Sahel region is becoming an urgent
necessity, in order to arrest a development which threatens to spread
rapidly,” said his report.

He said a team of EU experts led would head to Niger, Mali and Mauritania
over the next week to assess what their needs are in combating extremist
groups and organised crime. “There is a need for help. Mauritania is asking
for it, Mali as well,” he said.

* Anti-terror co-ordinator says groups training militants in Mali-based
camps

LUXEMBOURG: Extremist groups are gaining strength in northern and western
Africa and pose an important security threat to the European Union, the EU’s
anti-terror co-ordinator warned on Thursday.

The groups are using training camps in Mali, while trafficking in people,
drugs and vehicles is a major problem in Guinea Bissau and is having
knock-on effects in Mauritania, said Gilles de Kerchove. “None of this is
good for security in the region,” he told reporters, after briefing EU
interior ministers in Luxembourg, adding, “Our security services are worried
about this. It’s on Europe’s doorstep.”

“Even if there is no operational link with Europe, our services believe
there is a logistical link,” he said. The problem may be exacerbated by
rebel Tuaregs, a nomadic people who have roamed the southern Sahara for
centuries, and have staged uprisings in both Mali and neighbouring Niger
claiming autonomy for their traditional homeland. Drug and light arms
trafficking are also common there.

De Kerchove warned the ministers that the EU must strengthen and improve
cooperation with its partners in the Sahel region in northern Niger and
Mali, and he urged them to study which financial options could be used to
help. “A European Union initiative in the Sahel region is becoming an urgent
necessity, in order to arrest a development which threatens to spread
rapidly,” said his report.

He said a team of EU experts led would head to Niger, Mali and Mauritania
over the next week to assess what their needs are in combating extremist
groups and organised crime. “There is a need for help. Mauritania is asking
for it, Mali as well,” he said.

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