Al Jazeera reports on a Mauritanian military assault on an al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb camp in a forest in western Mali. Mauritanian officials are claiming they routed an AQIM force based at the camp after “fierce” fighting.
The Mauritanian army has launched an attack on an al-Qaeda training camp in neighbouring Mali and “completely destroyed” it, a Mauritanian security source said.
Friday’s assault in the forest region of Wagadou in western Mali involved air strikes, the unnamed source told the AFP news agency, adding that the “terrorists” struck back with “heavy arms”.
“The definitive toll on the enemy side will only be known at dawn but it will be heavy. The tents of the camp and three vehicles have been destroyed,” the source said.
“Strong explosions were heard across a 20km radius, probably heavy weapons stocked in the camp,” the source continued. “We are in control of the situation and the zone has been secured.”
The attack was confirmed by a Malian soldier, Ousmane Diarra, who said the fighting was “very fierce”.
Mauritania is said to have coordinated the offensive with the government of Mali. While not stated, it is likely that French and possibly US commandos were involved in the operations. Note that airstrikes were reported during the operation. Neither Mauritania nor Mali have the capacity to launch airstrikes. And French commandos are known to have participated in a raid on an AQIM camp in Mali in July 2010.