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MALI

Al-Qaeda suspect remanded in custody

A Spanish judge Friday remanded in custody a suspected Al-Qaeda militant accused of links to extremists in Mali and bailed another man on the same charges, the court said.

Judge Santiago Pedraz ordered Nouh Mediouni, 23, to be held in custody as a flight risk on charges of "membership of a terrorist organisation", according to a written ruling from the National Court.

Police arrested Mediouni, who is of Algerian origin, on Tuesday in the northern Spanish city of Zaragoza.

They said he had been in contact with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has carried out attacks and kidnappings across north Africa.

The interior ministry said Mediouni was highly radicalised and was thought to have been recruited by Mali-based members of AQIM via an online militant forum.

Police in Murcia in the southeast on Tuesday arrested Hassan El Jaaouani, 52, of Moroccan origin, who they said had also been in contact with Mali-based AQIM leaders.

A judicial official said the judge on Friday released El Jaaouani on bail and ordered him not to leave Spain.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez-Diaz said the two suspects appeared to be "lone wolves" — individuals who became radicalised despite not having previous links to organised groups.

The government said 13 people had been arrested in Spain for "international terrorism" since the current conservative government took office at the end of 2011.

On March 11th, 2004, Spain suffered one of Europe's worst terror attacks when explosions linked to Al-Qaeda killed 191 people on packed commuter trains in Madrid.

Twenty-one people, mostly Moroccans, were convicted of involvement in those attacks.

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SECURITY

Spain to send security troops to Mali

Spain is to send 50 troops to the West African country of Mali as the European nation moves to combat regional insecurity.

Spain to send security troops to Mali
Spanish soliders will provide security and training assistance in Mali. Photo: ISAF

The soldiers will arrive in Mali on April 13, reported ABC newspaper on Tuesday.

They will be part of a European Union mission which will help Mali's government maintain control of its vast territory.

Mail is struggling to stop activities of Islamic fundamentalist groups including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) in the north of the country.

The Spanish troops will act as a security force at an EU training base in Koulikoro, about 60 kilometres from Mali's capital Bamako, according to Europa Press.

A further 15 Spanish soldiers will give Malian soldiers special operations training.

The security detail will be overseen by a lieutenant colonel, three deputies and 28 soldiers from Almeria's Viator Legion.

The EU's mission in Mali — known as the European Union Training Mission Mali, or EUTM for short — aims to rebuild Mali's under a civil authority.

The EU will consult on issues including control of power, logistical resources and respecting humanitarian rights.

Early in 2012, Islamists took over control over the north of Mali , terrorizing the inhabitants of the desert zone north of the River Niger.

The country experienced a military coup in March last year, with coup leader Amadou Sanogo citing the government's failure to control the north of the country as a motive for the overthrow.

In January this year, French forces moved into Mail and retook Malian territory.

The Maghreb and Sahel zones are of particular security interest to Spain as these constitute the southern border of the Mediterranean nation.

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