BAMAKO: A five-nation African anti-terror task force vowed on Saturday (Jun 30) to press on in its battle against militants, the day after a suicide attack on the outfit’s headquarters in Mali killed two soldiers and a civilian.

Friday’s attack was carried out by a bomber in a vehicle painted in UN colours who destroyed the building’s entrance wall.

It was the first attack on the headquarters of the G5 force, set up with the backing of France in 2017 to roll back militant insurgents and criminal groups in the vast, unstable Sahel region.

The Al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims, the main militant alliance in Africa’s Sahel region, claimed the attack in a telephone call to the Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar.

“The conditions of this force will improve,” Mauritanian Foreign Minister Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.

“This shows our determination rather than an indication of any weakness.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Cameroonian counterpart Paul Biya on Friday condemned the attack and discussed the security situation in the Lake Chad area, the French leader’s office said Saturday.

The strike came three days before a meeting in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott between Macron and the heads of the G5 Sahel states to discuss progress made by the force.

FOUR SUSPECTS ARRESTED

The G5 Sahel aims to have a total of 5,000 troops from five nations – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – but has faced funding problems.

It operates alongside France’s 4,000 troops in the troubled “tri-border” area where Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso meet, and alongside the UN’s 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali.

In a telephone call on Friday, Macron and Biya discussed “the need to continue with regional cooperation in the fight against terrorist acts by the Boko Haram group,” the French statement said.

The strike in the Malian town of Sevare came shortly after Friday prayers, a…

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