Elite troops de­ployed as Mali and Niger boost Sa­hel se­cu­rity

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

BA­MAKO: Mali and Niger are in­creas­ing se­cu­rity mea­sures in the Sa­hel re­gion af­ter a spate of kid­nap­pings and wor­ries over the fall­out from the Libyan cri­sis, and the Euro­pean Union said yes­ter­day it would fi­nan­cially sup­port their ef­forts. EU for­eign pol­icy chief Cather­ine Ash­ton said in Brus­sels the 27-na­tion bloc had ear­marked € 150 mil­lion to bol­ster se­cu­rity ef­forts “cov­er­ing, as a pri­or­ity, Mau­ri­ta­nia, Mali and Niger”.

Niger said it had de­ployed elite forces in the desert and Mali said it was also shoring up se­cu­rity in its north­ern town of Ki­dal, in a re­gion where the Tuareg who fought for Muam­mar Gaddafi in Libya are be­lieved to be mass­ing.

Four Euro­peans and a South African were kidnapped in Mali last month, and a Ger­man was killed, adding to a spate of kid­nap­pings in the vast and re­mote desert re­gion where alQaeda’s North African wing op­er­ates.

Niger’s de­fence min­is­ter Karidjo Ma­hamadou said on national tele­vi­sion the elite troops were trained in the US, France and on- site in Niger with the as­sis­tance of for­eign part­ners, say­ing their numbers were in the hundreds. – Reuters

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