BAMAKO — Army chiefs from Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Algeria are on alert as the crisis in nearby Libya deteriorates, placing the entire region at risk, a military source said on Saturday.
Speaking after a meeting Friday between the four army heads, a Malian officer who attended said: "The situation in Libya is of great concern. There is a risk of destabilising the entire region."
The meeting was to reinforce the fight against insecurity in a region threatened by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
"Moreover, because of the Libyan crisis, the security situation in the Sahel has deteriorated, so it is necessary to be careful. We are all on alert and we keep each other informed," he added.
According to a document from one of the participating countries, seen by AFP, "there is now no doubt, several Al-Qaeda fighters are involved in the Libya fighting."
These included "Libyan Islamists who were released by the government a few weeks before the outbreak of the conflict" in mid-February.