Senegal's president calls for more aggressive fight against terrorism


The president of Senegal on Monday called on the United Nations to allow troops to take a more offensive position in the fight against terrorism in West Africa's Sahel region.

Speaking at the International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, President Macky Sall said a multilateral force had thus far failed to curb terrorism in the region. "How can more than 30,000 troops be held to ransom by terrorists in the Sahel?" Sall asked during his remarks, calling on the UN Security Council to allow a more aggressive mandate.

In June, the council renewed the mission's mandate for a year, with a focus on stabilising the area.

"I am not criticising the UN but it must make internal reforms or reform its procedures," Sall said. "The situation is deteriorating each day." The region is home to one of the UN's largest joint operations, MINUSMA, with more than 13,000 blue-helmet soldiers and 1,920 police officers.

The French-led operation Operation Barkhane has roughly 4,500 soldiers posted throughout the Sahel, while the European Union's Capacity Building mission has trained more than 13,000 security forces in the region. In addition a joint military force of about 5,000 troops from the five worst-affected countries - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger known as the G5 alliance - are also in present in the Sahel.

"Terrorist groups will take advantage as soon as they can of our weaknesses, our lack of coordination, or the scarcity of our means, commitment, or training," said French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who also attended the forum.

The vast Sahel region with its porous borders and ungoverned areas is blighted by terrorism.

Groups like al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Jamaat al-Nasr al-Islam, Ansar al-Dine and Boko Haram operate in the area. Sporadic attacks have killed hundreds of civilians in recent years.    (dpa)

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