North Africa, Southern Europe join hands to tackle terrorism 2008-05-23 22:41:54   Print

    NOUAKCHOTT, May 23 (Xinhua) -- In light of mounted terrorism risks in North Africa and Southern Europe, interior ministers from western Mediterranean countries have agreed to step up the fight against terrorism and establish a central body to investigate drug trafficking.

    Ten interior ministers from Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Malta and France, took part in the 13th Conference of Interior Ministers of Western Mediterranean Countries on May 21-22 in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott.

    The meeting was held as part of the Inter-governmental Conference of Interior Ministers from the Western Mediterranean (CIMO).

    With European countries are more and more worried by the militant attacks in North Africa, North African countries expressed their willingness to take effective measures to tackle terrorism.

    Mauritania had "taken charge of this new phenomenon" and hoped the group could bring an "effective contribution to meeting this threat," Mauritanian minister Mohamed Noctar Hassen said.

    Algerian minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni said his country would double the funding of national security to four billion euros (6.29 billion U.S. dollars) to fight the militant attacks.

    Mauritanian President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi on Wednesday held bilateral discussions with visiting French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.

    During the meeting, they discussed the mounting risks that "we are jointly running and which justify the implementation of measures to strengthen our cooperation and forge even closer ties between the two countries," said Alliot-Marie.

    "This is more so given the terrorist threat that continues to remain real throughout this region and also the whole of Europe," said the interior minister.

    In the wake of this scenario, the French minister stressed the need to "strengthen our ties in terms of intelligence gathering and analysis of the situation and our capacity to work together."

    In recent years, North African countries have suffered bomb blasts and other attacks carried out by Islamic militants, including the North African branch of Al Qaeda.

    Last December, a group of suspected terrorists sprayed automatic fire on a group of French tourists in Aleg, southwestern Mauritania, leaving four of them dead and another one seriously injured.

    Following the attack, the deadliest against foreigners in the moderate Muslim West African nation, security forces backed by French intelligence officers launched one of the largest manhunts across the region and arrested two of the suspects in neighboring Guinea-Bissau.

    The two defendants, who have since been extradited to Mauritania together with the third attacker who was recently arrested in Nouakchott, are awaiting trial in connection with the murders, according to judicial sources.

    Alliot-Marie also took the opportunity to express France's recognition of and admiration for the Mauritanian president for the good work that was being carried out by the country's security forces in the fight against international terrorism.

    Furthermore, the minister called for cooperation in tackling other challenges such as the issue of drug trafficking networks, which is "a big problem for our country and which also requires joint action."

Editor: Yan Liang
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