AQIM militants say killed two men for spying for France

Nouakchott: Al-Qaeda’s North African arm said today that it had killed two men last month for spying for France in Mali.

The two men, named as Mohammed Ag Abdellah and Fajr Ag Sidi Mohammed, were killed on October 9 and October 19 respectively “in their hiding place in Bourj el-Barajneh in Algeria,” according to a statement by the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group.

Neither the nationality nor other details of the two men were given in the AQIM statement which was published by the Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar.

The agency is one of the private Mauritanian media sources which regularly publish statements from AQIM and other jihadist groups.

The agency said that the two men involved were both Tuaregs from northern Mali who the Al-Qaeda group accused of “spying on behalf of France” which has been involved militarily in Mali since an international military operation was launched in January 2013.

The two men “collected information” on the location of possible targets for France and were accused of killing some combatants, according to the AQIM statement.

Mali has been torn apart by unrest since the north fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012.

The Islamists were largely ousted by a French-led military operation launched the following year, but large swathes of Mali remain lawless.

France has more than 1,000 troops in its former colony, a key battleground of the Barkhane counter-terror mission spanning five countries in Africa’s restive Sahel region.