France: Nigerian militants trained in Mali
14 November 2013, 17:57
Rabat - Boko Haram, the Nigerian group recently labelled by
the US as a terrorist organisation trained with al-Qaeda's North African branch
in northern Mali, France's foreign minister said Thursday.
Citing documents recovered in the remote Ifoghas mountains
in northern Mali following the French intervention earlier this year, Laurent
Fabius said Boko Haram's presence there demonstrated the interconnection of
jihadi groups in Africa.
"This is a source of concern for all of us," he
said at the opening of a conference in Morocco on regional responses to
Formed in 2009, Boko Haram seeks to impose Islamic law in
northern Nigeria and is blamed for thousands of deaths, including the bombing
of the UN building in the capital in 2011.
A French priest was kidnapped on Thursday in Cameroon, near
the border with Nigeria in an area where Boko Haram is known to operate, the
French Foreign Ministry said.
While Boko Haram was believed to have links with al-Qaeda
affiliated groups in the deserts to the north, the actual training of the group
in northern Mali was not widely known.
Al-Qaeda's North Africa branch teamed up with extremists
from the desert-dwelling Tuaregs to take over northern Mali, until they were
driven out by a French-backed African force early this year.
There are longstanding concerns that extremist groups
throughout the poorly controlled desert regions were co-ordinating their
Thursday's conference, which included foreign ministers from
France and a number of African countries, is seeking to improve regional
security co-operation and address porous borders, especially in Libya.
Since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, security has
broken down in Libya and weapons and drug smugglers cross the borders in the
south with impunity.
Following the French intervention in Mali, it is widely
believed that elements of al-Qaeda took refuge in southern Libya, working with
"The fact remains that as organized crime transcends
international borders there is no doubt in my mind that this type of networking
exists with elements of al-Qaeda," Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Ahmed
Abdelaziz told The Associated Press on the margins of the conference.
"This type of networking has serious implications on the security of the