LONDON, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Control over several North African states teeming with al-Qaida affiliates is slipping away from authorities, an official warned.
Niger, Mali, and Mauritania are under a growing threat from al-Qaida operatives targeting Western workers. The Somalia government, meanwhile, is struggling to expand its control as al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida affiliate, tries to impose an Islamic state in the country.
Amadou Marou, president of Niger's National Consultative Council, told European leaders that al-Qaida could be gaining control in parts of the region.
"Somalia got away from us," he was quoted by London's Telegraph newspaper as saying, "and northern Mali is in the process of getting away from us."
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African branch of al-Qaida, kidnapped five French nationals last month. An American aid worker, meanwhile, was killed by al-Qaida guerrillas last year.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a U.S. counter-terrorism expert, told the Telegraph that it was obvious something needed to be done in North African, "but it isn't obvious how to do what needs doing."
Washington has admitted to helping Yemen deal with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida, but denied playing a military role in the country.
AQAP allegedly played a role in a failed attack on a passenger plane bound for Detroit last year and authorities Friday said they believed a suspected explosive device was discovered on a cargo plane from Yemen.