Terror threat still high in Africa's Sahel

2013-06-21 20:05

Dakar - The threat of terrorism in Africa's Sahel remains high despite the weakening of Islamist groups in northern Mali, the European Union's representative for the region said on Friday.

Michel Reveyrand de Menthon told a media conference in the Senegalese capital Dakar that a French-led military intervention launched against al-Qaeda-linked militant groups in January had not eliminated the danger.

"There has been a considerable weakening of these groups with Operation Serval, but it is clear that they have the capacity for very fast reconstruction which shows that the threat remains high," he said.

The Sahel, a vast strip of land abutting the southern Sahara desert from Mauritania on Africa's west coast to Eritrea in the east, includes conflicts in Mali and Sudan's Darfur, some of the world's poorest countries.

De Menthon said suicide attacks in May claimed in part by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa in which 20 people died proved that the threat remained ever-present.

"The risk of terrorism and trafficking, particularly in drugs, is evolving in a vast space and with an ever-changing enemy," he said.

"We have scored victories but we still have to act on the origins of [terror]. The fight against terrorism requires many approaches.

"We need everyone to be aware of the danger of a fanaticism without limit and the best defence is to stand up for the values of democracy and freedom."