Algeria: December 26, 2003


Mali claimed that it was taking all necessary steps to make guarantee their country did not become a rear-area base for Islamic radicals acting against their neighbors. Mali's security forces clamped down on their northern Timbuktu 40 kilometers from the border with Mauritania, 24 hours after armed Islamist fighters were spotted in the region. The group was traveling aboard dozens of all-terrain vehicles along the frontier and their intentions were unknown. While no strength figures were given, the number was large enough for the government to "significantly bolster security" in the zone. 

Suspected Mauritanian military coup plotters from the June 2003 attempt may have also crossed into Mali and security forces are still seeking the Algerian terrorists who kidnapped 32 European tourists for ransom. The last hostages were released in the Malian desert in August. US soldiers were expected to arrive in the vast desert region of northern Mali in the near future, either to help train Malian forces for peacekeeping missions or "how to fight against terrorism." - Adam Geibel


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