Algerian Troops in Mali to Combat Qaida-Linked Groups

Algerian troops have crossed into Mali to help government forces combat groups affiliated to al-Qaida, officials and witnesses told Agence France Presse Tuesday.

"Algerian troops are currently stationed in northern Mali to assist the Malian army in the fight against terrorism," a high-ranking military official said.

He would not divulge the number of Algerian troops now based in Mali nor the expected length of their stay.

"We know there is a team of instructors of at least 15, including officers," a diplomatic source said, also on condition of anonymity.

Customs officials told AFP they saw a convoy carrying Algerian military between the northern towns of Kidal and Tessalit, near the Algerian border.

Al-Qaida-linked groups have been active in Algeria, Mali, Niger and Mauritania for a decade but their activity has picked up since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi scattered the slain Libyan strongman's arsenal across the region.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and a splinter group that surfaced earlier this month -- the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa -- currently hold 12 European hostages.

Source: Agence France Presse

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