Niger President: Pakistanis, Afghans Train Islamists in Mali

Posted June 7th, 2012 at 7:25 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou says jihadi fighters from Pakistan and Afghanistan are training members of Islamist groups in northern Mali.

Mr. Issoufou told the “France 24” news channel in the capital, Niamey, Thursday the government has information on the presence of Afghans and Pakistanis in northern Mali operating as trainers. He said the foreigners are training “those that have been recruited in West African countries.”

Mali, once considered a beacon of African democracy, has been in turmoil since March, when a group of soldiers ousted the government of President Amadou Toumani Toure, leaving a power vacuum in the country.

Since the military coup, Tuareg rebels, with the help of Islamist militants, seized control of a large area of northern Mali and proclaimed an independent state they call “Azawad.”

Also Thursday, African leaders met in Ivory Coast's financial capital, Abidjan, to hammer out details of a possible military intervention in Mali.

Ivory Coast Foreign Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan said participants from the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States will discuss whether to ask the U.N. Security Council to allow the use of force to reunite Mali if talks with armed groups failed to resolve the crisis.

ECOWAS has already pledged to help Mali fight the rebels.