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Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 16:41 UK

Mauritania charges link al-Qaeda to drug trafficking

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A court in Mauritania has charged 20 people with being part of a drug-trafficking group linked to al-Qaeda's North African wing.

They were also charged with supporting the perpetrators of terrorist acts.

The arrests were made in late February after a gun battle when a convoy was stopped near the Mali border by the Mauritanian military.

The army killed three people and seized the vehicles carrying the drugs, the AFP news agency reports.

Sources told the agency the drugs seized were cannabis and cocaine.

West Africa is a major transit point for illicit drugs bound for Europe.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has waged a campaign of suicide bombings and ambushes in Algeria, and in recent years they have become more active in the Sahara desert.



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