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Algerian group threatens US facilities in Africa

Written by: Staff

ALGIERS, May 12 (Reuters) Algerian rebels have threatened to strike US military bases in north Africa and the Sub-Sahara region.

''There are US military bases in Mali, Niger and two others are to be constructed respectively in Mauritania and Algeria ...

They should know (Americans and local governments) that we won't keep our arms crossed,'' a statement on the Internet said.

The note was posted by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), Algeria's main rebel faction linked to al Qaeda.

It was dated May 8 and signed by a top GSPC official, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, also known as Khalid Abu Al.

The GSPC was behind the kidnapping of 32 European tourists in the Sahara desert in 2003 as well as an attack on a military base in Mauritania in 2005.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar said the growing US military presence in the Sub-Sahara region is mainly due to links between GSPC and al Qaeda.

''They (Americans) started to be more present in the region after they heard about our contacts with our al Qaeda brothers,'' he said.

The authenticity of his statement could not be confirmed.

The Algerian government was unavailable to comment.

The United States has conducted joint training exercises in countries around the Sahel as part of the ''Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative'', expected to cost 100 million dollars over five years.

It is also reinforcing military cooperation and intelligence sharing with OPEC member Algeria, recovering from an Islamic uprising lasting more than a decade and leaving 200,000 dead.

Reuters PR RS2029

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