Ahmed Ould Elmoctar, a member of a hardline wing of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM), was jailed for five years for spying on Westerners in the central town of Tidjikja and providing information on the Mauritanian armed forces, according to an AFP reporter at the court.
A second man, Mohamed Lemine Ould Cheikh, was jailed for two years for being a member of a “terrorist” organisation and “attempts to rally support for AQIM”, the court ruled.
The court in the capital Nouakchott jailed three people on terrorism charges Thursday, the same day as the trial opened for 19 people suspected of belonging to AQIM.
Meanwhile, Malian authorities arrested an AQIM militant wanted by Nouakchott for involvement in a 2005 attack on a military garrison that killed 15 Mauritanian soldiers, a Malian security official said.
North African states agreed to increase counter-terrorism cooperation during a summit this week in the Malian capital Bamako.
Experts from G8 members Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States held two days of closed meetings Thursday and Friday with counterparts from Burkina Faso, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.
After staging a wave of attacks on governments in the region, AQIM has recently turned to kidnappings of foreigners.
On September 16 the group seized five French nationals, a Madagascan and a Togolese from a uranium mining town in Niger. It is believed to be holding them in a mountainous desert region in northeastern Mali.
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