The bodies of militants belonging to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb -- killed during a Mauritanian army raid on their camp in neighbouring Mali -- have been found, a Mauritanian military official said Saturday.While the world's focus is primarily on Afghanistan, the frontier provinces of Pakistan, and Yemen and the Horn of Africa including Somalia, the terror group is looking to take advantage of lawless regions the world over, including West Africa's Mali. Mauritanian troops carried out an air assault and claimed to have completely destroyed the terror camp. They took heavy fire from the terror camp and sustained some casualties, but there's no way to independently verify the reports.
"We are seeing bodies on the ground, burned out cars...," said the official speaking from the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, without giving a precise death toll.
The official said troops were combing nearby forest.
"It's complicated and dangerous, the terrorists may have mined the area. They are dangerous. We have to take maximum care to avoid ambushes."
A local official in Mali said earlier that he "could not say from which side the casualties had come."
An independent source in the area contacted by phone spoke of a "heavy toll."
The Mauritanian army bombed the camp in western Mali's Wagadou region on Friday evening in an operation that involved fierce fighting and left four soldiers wounded, security sources said.
Several military sources had earlier said AQIM was trying to set up a new base in the region.
AQIM is a spinoff of al Qaeda and is primarily based in Algeria. It formed as an Islamic terror group in reaction to the secular government in Algeria and its crackdown against Islamic groups. Maghreb refers to the following six West/North African countries - Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania but can also specifically refer to Morocco.