UN-led talks on Western Sahara end with plans to meet again
GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. secretary-general's envoy for Western Sahara on Thursday wrapped up the first talks in six years over the future of the territory mostly controlled by Morocco, saying the sides have agreed to meet again early next year.
Former German president Horst Koehler hailed "a first, but an important, step" toward resolving a decades-old standoff between Morocco and the independence-minded Polisario Front.
UN hosts meeting of regional envoys over Western Sahara
GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. secretary-general's envoy for Western Sahara is meeting with foreign ministers from Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania plus leaders of the Polisario Front over the future of the Morocco-annexed territory.
U.N. envoy Horst Koehler, a former German president, hosted a "round-table" discussion among the attendees at the first U.N.-hosted talks on the territory in six years, after meeting with them bilaterally earlier Wednesday.
Mauritania qualifies in another African Cup surprise
Mauritania qualified for its first major soccer tournament on Sunday when it beat Botswana to claim a place at next year's African Cup of Nations.
It was the second major surprise of qualifying after Madagascar sealed a spot at the African Cup for the first time last month.
Mauritania, a country in northwest Africa covered almost completely by the Sahara desert, came from behind to beat Botswana 2-1 with two goals by forward Ismael Diakite.
Salah Egypt’s ‘superman’ again with last-minute winner
Mohamed Salah scored in the last minute to give Egypt a 3-2 win over Tunisia in African Cup of Nations qualifying on Friday, taking the forward's tally to 10 goals in his last eight games for his country.
Man’s harrowing journey to US underscores immigration shift
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The young man traversed Andean mountains, plains and cities in buses, took a harrowing boat ride in which five fellow migrants drowned, walked through thick jungle for days, and finally reached the U.S.-Mexico border.
Then Abdoulaye Camara, from the poor West African country of Mauritania, asked U.S. officials for asylum.
US, rights groups pressure Mauritania over slavery
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — International rights groups are urging Mauritania to release anti-slavery activists, as the United States has announced it will end trade benefits to the West African country over the continuation of slavery.
Amnesty International and 32 other human rights organizations on Thursday called for the release of 35-year-old blogger Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir, who remains in custody in an undisclosed location, with limited access to his family and no access to his lawyers.
12-pound lunar meteorite sells for more than $600,000
BOSTON (AP) — A 12-pound (5.5 kilogram) chunk of the moon that fell to the Earth as a lunar meteorite has been sold at auction for more than $600,000.
Boston-based RR Auction announced Friday the $612,500 winning bid for the meteorite, composed of six fragments that fit together like a puzzle, came from a representative working with the Tam Chuc Pagoda complex in Ha Nam Province, Vietnam.
UN seeks inquiry into new claims of peacekeeper sexual abuse
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations is facing new allegations that peacekeepers in Central African Republic sexually assaulted at least three children under 18 and raped three adult women earlier this year, the latest in a series of sexual misconduct claims that have marred U.N. peacekeeping efforts in recent years.
Mauritania’s ruling party wins majority parliament
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — Mauritania's election commission says the West African nation's ruling party has won a majority of seats in a second round of legislative, municipal and regional elections.
The election commission said Monday that the Union for the Republic now has 93 of 157 seats on the National Assembly. It also won control of all of the regional councils and 169 of 219 municipalities.
Voters in Mauritania face 2nd round of legislative elections
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — Voters in Mauritania are going to the polls for a second round of legislative, municipal and regional elections under tight security as the ruling party seeks to strengthen its majority in Parliament.
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, whose second and final term ends next year, hopes to keep the ruling party in power in the 2019 presidential election.
Mauritanians voting in legislative, municipal elections
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — Some 1.4 million people in Mauritania are going to the polls for legislative, regional and municipal elections that will position the West African nation for next year's presidential vote.
Mauritania, like other nations in the region, faces a growing threat from extremists as well as the day-to-day challenge of underdevelopment.
Nearly 100 political parties have put forward candidates, with close to 5,000 people running for the National Assembly alone.
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — African heads of state have pledged to coordinate efforts to improve the continent's security and defeat jihadist organizations, particularly in Nigeria and the Sahel region, during talks Monday at the 31st African Union summit held in Mauritania's capital.
French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Nouakchott Monday to discuss the battle against Islamic extremism and ways to finance counterterrorism and peacekeeping operations.
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — SITE Intelligence Group says the Mali branch of al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on French forces which officials said killed four civilians in the northern city of Gao.
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — Thirty African leaders began a closed-door meeting Sunday to discuss ways to fight extremism and corruption at the 31st African Union summit being held in Mauritania's capital.
As the meeting is being held, neighboring Mali has had three extremist attacks on military targets in three days.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. humanitarian chief warned Tuesday that nearly 6 million people are struggling to get food in West Africa's Sahel region and severe malnutrition is threatening the lives of 1.6 million children.
Mark Lowcock said in a statement that these levels haven't been seen since a crisis in 2012 "and the most critical months are still ahead."
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States is rejecting a call from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the world body to fund a new 5,000-troop African force meant to fight extremists in western Africa's vast Sahel region.
Guterres says in a report to the Security Council that the Sahel force should receive regular U.N. funding instead of voluntary contributions, and he is urging West African countries to speed up its deployment.
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The United Nations says a peacekeeper from Mauritania has been killed in Central African Republic.
A statement says the peacekeeper was killed in an ambush south of Alindao town in the impoverished country that since 2013 has faced deadly sectarian violence.
Eight other Mauritanian peacekeepers were wounded Thursday morning in the attack by suspected anti-Balaka fighters. Five of the peacekeepers are in grave condition.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Mostly Christian militia fighters attacked a U.N. peacekeeping base in the Central African Republic early Tuesday, and one peacekeeper from Mauritania was killed and 11 others were injured in a gunbattle that lasted several hours, the United Nations said.
Senegal closes schools linked to Turkish cleric in exile
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal's government has closed more than a dozen schools linked to a man the Turkish government considers a terrorist, underlining Turkey's growing influence in predominantly Muslim West Africa.
About 3,000 children in Senegal have been affected as Turkey reduces the influence of Fethullah Gulen, who is labeled a terrorist by Turkey's government.
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Donors pledge $510 million for West Africa anti-terror force
BRUSSELS (AP) — International donors on Friday pledged 414 million euros ($510 million) to help five impoverished countries in West Africa's vast Sahel region set up a new counterterror force as a deadly jihadist threat grows.
The 5,000-strong G5 Sahel force for Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger was seeking around 400 million euros for its mission along mostly desert borders, including near Libya — the main jumping-off point for thousands of African migrants bound for Italy.
The Latest: $510 million pledged for West Africa’s Sahel
BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on European Union meeting on West Africa's Sahel region (all times local):
The European Union's top diplomat says donors have pledged 414 million euros ($510 million) to five impoverished countries in West Africa's Sahel region, much of it to fund a counterterror force.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says the total "goes far beyond our initial expectations."
EU, Africa leaders drum up support for impoverished Sahel
BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders meet Friday with counterparts from West Africa in a show of support for the impoverished Sahel region that has fallen prey to extremists and is a key transit point for migrants heading to Europe.
Islamic State group offshoot claims 2017 Niger attack on US
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — An Islamic State group offshoot is claiming it carried out the October attack in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers and four Nigerien troops and sparked questions about U.S. military involvement in West Africa's vast Sahel region.
African anti-jihadi force gets $130 million at French meet
LA CELLE-SAINT-CLOUD, France (AP) — A new African military force to counter growing extremism in the Sahel region should see victories "in the first half of 2018," France's president said Wednesday after hosting a summit to boost support for the five-nation effort.
Mauritania blogger sentenced to death is released on appeal
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — An appeals court in Mauritania has released a blogger who had been sentenced to death for an online post deemed blasphemous by authorities.
The court in Nouadhibou city on Thursday sentenced Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir to two years in prison and a fine. He has already served nearly four years, so he was released.
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US promises up to $60M for anti-extremist force in Africa
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.S. pledged up to $60 million Monday to help a 5,000-soldier African force get going on fighting extremists in western Africa's vast Sahel region, but Washington remains cool to putting U.N. resources into the nearly $500 million-a-year effort as Sahel countries look to the world body for financing.
UN chief urges support for Sahel force to fight extremists
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging strong international support for a 5,000-strong force to fight the growing threat from extremists in Africa's vast Sahel region, warning that if urgent action isn't taken "the stability of the entire region, and beyond, is in jeopardy."
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has tapped a veteran diplomat who currently serves as U.S. ambassador to Turkey to be his envoy to Afghanistan.
The White House says John Bass will be nominated for the Afghanistan job. Bass has also served in Iraq.
The nomination comes just as Trump's administration prepares to unveil a new strategy for the country where the U.S. has been fighting since 2001. The Pentagon is expected to send close to 4,000 more troops there.
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — France's president on Sunday promised strong support for a new multinational military force against extremists in Africa's vast Sahel region, saying the "terrorists, thugs and assassins" need to be eradicated.
President Emmanuel Macron, meeting in Mali with leaders from the five regional countries involved, said France will provide military support for operations as well as 70 tactical vehicles and communications, operations and protective equipment.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday welcoming the deployment of a 5,000-strong African force to fight the growing threat from extremists in the vast Sahel region after it was watered down to meet U.S. demands.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Mali's foreign minister urged the U.N. Security Council on Friday to authorize the immediate deployment of a five-nation force to fight the growing "terrorist" threat in Africa's vast Sahel region — a move the United States opposes.
Abdoulaye Diop told the council that Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, acting president of the so-called Group of Five or G5, is deeply concerned at the difficulties the French-drafted resolution is facing in the council.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States is opposing a French-drafted U.N. resolution that would authorize military action by five countries in Africa's vast Sahel region against extremist groups.
France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre says the African Union and the five countries — Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad — have asked for Security Council authorization for the force. He said this would be "the best tool" to combat extremism in the region.
Nine countries cut ties with Qatar, one of the richest states in the Middle East, calling into question the future of a powerful 36-year-old Gulf states union.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — France circulated a U.N. Security Council resolution Tuesday that would authorize military action by five countries in Africa's vast Sahel region against extremist groups.
Presidents of the five countries — Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania — agreed in February to set up a joint force. Initially, it is expected to comprise up to 5,000 military, civilian and police personnel, with headquarters in Mali.
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — An official with West Africa's regional bloc says leaders of the 15-nation group have agreed "in principle" on Morocco's membership application for membership, though more assessments will be made.
The official said Monday the ECOWAS commission will do its own study on Morocco's possible membership and report back to heads of state, who instructed them to "examine the implications" of allowing Morocco to join.
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Mauritania's state-run news agency says a newly formed extremist group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack on a Mali military base that killed at least 17 soldiers.
The SITE Intelligence Group says the news agency reported Friday the claim by Mali-based Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen. The report says the group claims dozens were wounded in the attack on Boulikessi base near the border with Burkina Faso.
Extremists attack Niger military patrol, kill 15 soldiers
NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — A spokesman for Niger's military says at least 15 soldiers have been killed in an attack by Islamic extremists on a patrol near the country's border with Mali.
Colonel Abdoul Aziz Toure said Thursday that the attack near the village of Interzawane in the Tillaberi region on Wednesday also wounded 19 other soldiers. He says the military is pursuing the attackers.
Sahel countries plan joint force to fight terror threat
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The presidents of five countries in Africa's vast Sahel region have agreed to set up a joint counterterrorism force, though few details are yet available.
The plan was announced at the end of a meeting in Mali of the regional G5 group, which includes Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad.
A statement Monday said the plan would require a mandate from the African Union and United Nations as well as financing. It is not clear how large the countries want the force to be.
The Latest: Defeated Gambia leader says relinquishing power
BANJUL, Gambia (AP) — The Latest on Gambia's political crisis, sparked by defeated leader Yahya Jammeh's refusal to leave office (all times local):
No word from Jammeh as midnight deadline arrives in Gambia
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — After more than two decades in power, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh faced the prospect of a military intervention by regional forces, as the man who once pledged to rule the West African nation for a billion years clung to power.
Palestinian plane bomber’s post-prison home is Mauritania
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A Jordanian-born Palestinian who was imprisoned in the United States for putting a bomb on a Hawaii-bound flight in 1982 has been relocated to the West African country of Mauritania.
Mohammed Rashed's attorney said Monday that Rashed, who had been held in federal detention outside Buffalo, was removed from the United States earlier this month.
Mauritanian released from Guantanamo won’t pursue complaints
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — A Mauritanian who returned home Monday after being held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for nearly 14 years says he will not file complaints against the United States or Mauritania.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a former al-Qaida extremist, said Saturday that "my slogan is to not pursue complaints against anyone who made me suffer injustice."
He did not respond to reporters' questions. His American lawyers were present as he spoke.
Mauritanian Guantanamo prisoner who published diary set free
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — A former al-Qaida militant who gained fame with the publication of a diary about life at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was released Monday, and returned to Mauritania after nearly 14 years of detention.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi landed in the capital on a U.S. military plane, said Lemine Mohamed, the police chief in Nouakchott. Ould Slahi will speak with anti-terror police before heading to his home, said Mohamed.
Mauritania anti-slavery group seeks release of colleagues
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A Mauritanian anti-slavery activist says he plans to bring up the plight of his imprisoned colleagues during an African Union meeting next month.
Biram Ould Dah made a trip to neighboring Mali on Thursday in a bid to draw support from human rights activists there.
Mauritania sentences 13 anti-slavery activists to prison
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Mauritania has sentenced 13 anti-slavery activists to prison on terms ranging from three to 15 years.
Amnesty International said late Thursday that the sentences send a disturbing message that Mauritanian authorities are willing to silence human rights defenders and restrict freedom of expression. It called again for the activists' unconditional release.
Morocco accused of cease-fire violation in Western Sahara
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Polisario Front movement seeking independence for the disputed Western Sahara accused Morocco on Tuesday of violating a 1991 cease-fire agreement by sending troops and equipment into the territory.
Morocco's Interior Ministry said security forces and customs officials have been carrying out an operation near the Mauritania border aimed at dismantling "smuggling rings and illegal commercial trade" in the area.
A look at Guantanamo detainees transferred, or cleared to go
A new Pentagon report to Congress details some Guantanamo Bay detainees awaiting transfer or recently transferred.
Mohammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanim, 41, of Yemen (awaiting transfer)
An experienced militant believed to have acted as a guard for al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. He arrived in Afghanistan in late 2000, fought for the Taliban against the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance and worked for a charity linked to al-Qaida. He associated with several...
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — More than a dozen human rights groups are calling on Mauritania to unconditionally release 13 anti-slavery activists and drop all charges against them.
Amnesty International said Monday the activists have been falsely accused. The organizations called for their release ahead of a court appearance Wednesday.
The activists, members of a non-governmental organization that campaigns against slavery in the West African country, are accused of...