Islamabad, The president of Niger has warned that Jihadi fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan are training militant groups in northern Mali.
“We have information on the presence of Afghans and Pakistanis in northern Mali. They are believed to be working as instructors,” The Dawn quoted President Mahamadou Issoufou, as saying.
“They are the ones who are training those who have been recruited across various West African countries,” said Issoufou, whose country shares a long and porous desert border with Mali.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has been active for years in northern Mali, where it has launched attacks against government army positions, kidnapped foreigners and allegedly benefitted from drug running.
Issoufou said the militant groups are part of a global network spanning much of Africa and reaching all the way to Afghanistan.
“I think all these organisations cooperate amongst themselves, whether the Shebab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, AQIM in Algeria and in the Sahel in general, all the way to Afghanistan,” he said.
Issoufou said he feared the hardline militant groups regrouping in northern Mali could spread to his country, which has also been hit by AQIM attacks in recent years.
“These groups in northern Mali are continuing to get their supply of weapons from southwestern Libya,” he said.
He also said he could not rule out a military intervention in Mali, stressing however that it should be “a last resort.”