Elite troops deployed as Mali and Niger boost Sahel security
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