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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 July 2018

Morocco foreign minister: More than 10,000 Islamic militants in Africa

Africa faces more militant attacks than anywhere outside of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan

The terror group, which is seeking an Islamic state based on Sharia law, has caused the deaths of at least 20,000 people since it took up arms in 2009 in Nigeria. Boko Haram/AP 
The terror group, which is seeking an Islamic state based on Sharia law, has caused the deaths of at least 20,000 people since it took up arms in 2009 in Nigeria. Boko Haram/AP 

Africa is home to more than 10,000 militants from ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Morocco's foreign minister told a meeting of the US-led coalition Tuesday.

"Within the framework of the evolution of the strategy of Daesh [ISIS], Africa is among the most targeted zones" whose vulnerabilities are "exploited by the terrorists", Nasser Bourita said.

The minister called for cooperation between African countries and the global coalition to defeat ISIS, whose political representatives met on Tuesday in Skhirat near the Moroccan capital Rabat.

Excluding Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the African continent suffers the most militant attacks and "the number of victims is greater than for Europe", Mr Bourita said during a briefing with Brett McGurk, US President Donald Trump's special envoy for the coalition.

Mr McGurk said the gathering allowed coalition members "to share information to enable a network to protect our homeland", prevent fighters from crossing borders and combat terrorism financing.

The US envoy hailed the "very successful meeting" whose focus was "on trying to finish the job in Syria".

The coalition has put forward nearly $90 million for reconstruction programmes in Syria and Iraq, he told a press briefing.

The regional meeting bringing together around 50 delegations, including 20 from the African continent, was the first of its kind, according to Morocco's foreign ministry.

"African countries have much to learn from the global coalition against Daesh, formed in 2014 around the United States to intervene in Iraq and Syria," Mr Bourita said at the briefing.