Mauritania names commander for regional counter-terror force
Mauritania has named the commander who will take charge of operations in the western zone overseen by the regional G5 Sahel anti-jihadist force, as it wrapped up its second operation.
Colonel Salem Vall Ould Isselmou will head operations in Mauritania and a section of Mali for the force of troops drawn from five countries in Africa's Sahel region, a military source told AFP on Thursday, confirming reports in local media.
The force's operations under Ould Isselmou will be based in Nbeikit in Mauritania.
The G5 Sahel force -- composed of contingents from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Niger -- has just finished its second operation, which lasted two weeks.
The force has worked since last year, with heavy French backing, to re-establish control in lawless frontier regions south of the Sahara, where terror groups have been able to flourish.
Few details were released about the most recent operation, codenamed "Pagnali", for security reasons.
The G5 Sahel countries have been hit by jihadist attacks that began in Nigeria, claiming thousands of lives, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, crippling local economies and worsening food security.
It works alongside France's 4,000 troops, deployed across the Sahel, and the UN's 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali.
But the five participating countries -- all former French colonies -- are among the poorest in the world and their militaries are badly under-equipped.