NOUAKCHOTT | Mauritanian soldiers patrolled the town of Bassiknou on Wednesday after al Qaeda-linked extremists attacked a nearby army base that houses an anti-terrorist unit, a military source said.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) launched the raid 10 days after one of its camps was destroyed in a raid by the Mauritanian army in western Mali as it sought to flush out extremists in the desert region.
A military source speaking on the condition of anonymity said soldiers were keeping watch around the town in the extreme south of the country, ready for any eventuality.
The area was rocked by gunfire and explosions as the army, backed by military aircraft, battled AQIM militants in a counterattack that reportedly lasted less than an hour.
Wednesday’s union-organized rally ended with the handing over of a memorandum to U.S. officials saying bombings are undermining African efforts to negotiate a solution.
South African President Jacob Zuma is leading stalled African Union mediation efforts. He has faced criticism at home for supporting a U.N. resolution calling for protecting civilians in Libya.
Mr. Zuma blames NATO for overstepping the resolution.
The fiery leader of the governing African National Congress Youth League, Julius Malema, said at the rally that South Africa should have foreseen how the resolution would be used and should not have voted for it.
Leader’s third term bid up to constitutional council