, NOUAKCHOTT, Nov 23 – Joint action against Al-Qaeda militants in the Sahel region of northern Africa is the best way to root out the Islamist extremist menace, Mali\’s President Amadou Toumani Toure said on Monday.
"We have put in place a joint command which includes Malian, Mauritanian, Nigerien and Algerian officers," said Toure in an interview broadcast on Mauritanian state television.
"As a soldier, I think it is essential that we move towards a joint campaign," he said, without referring specifically to region\’s extremist group known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
"If everyone goes to war, that will go on for some time without lasting results. Together we can get to the end of the threat," he said.
Mali has long been accused by Algeria and Mauritania of being a weak link in the fight against Islamist extremists, and earlier this year Mauritanian troops staged a raid in Malian territory.
Toure\’s remarks come as Sahel countries crank up the pressure on AQIM. After staging a wave of attacks on governments in the region, the group has recently turned to kidnappings of foreigners.
In September the group seized five French nationals, a Madagascan and a Togolese from a uranium mining town in Niger.