Mauritanian and Malian forces raid al-Qaeda camp

Mali map

Mauritanian and Malian soldiers have raided an al-Qaeda camp in western Mali, defence sources said.

A Malian security source said there had been "fierce fighting" at the base in the Wagadou forest region on Friday, including the use of heavy weapons.

Wagadou, near Mauritania's border, is an area where al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are known to operate.

Earlier this month, Mali and Mauritania agreed to lead a joint operation to tackle the al-Qaeda offshoot.

'Wounded evacuated'

The attack took place at about 1745 local time (1745 GMT) on Friday and involved air strikes, according to a Mauritanian source cited by AFP news agency.

The source said the "terrorists" had struck back with "heavy weapons".

"The definitive toll on the enemy side will only be known at dawn but it will be heavy. The tents of the camp and three vehicles have been destroyed," the source said.

"We are in control of the situation and the zone has been secured."

The Malian source said helicopters from Mali had been used to evacuate the wounded from the area.

Regional governments has been on high alert since the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in May, amid concern that affiliated groups might plot a revenge attack.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has staged attacks and kidnapped Europeans in the region.

It emerged from Islamist groups fighting in Algeria in the 1990s.

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