BAMAKO Malian security forces have made some 2,000 arrests since November, when a state of emergency was introduced after an al Qaeda attack on a luxury hotel, the West African nation's security minister told Reuters on Friday.
Some 700 searches have been conducted and around 50 weapons seized, said Colonel Major Salif Traore. He did not say how many of those arrested were eventually imprisoned.
"We are the police," Trafore said. "We arrest people. We detain them 48 to 72 hours. And after, we send them before a judge who decides what happens next."
Gunmen from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group's North African affiliate, killed 20 people when they stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, on Nov. 20. Mali's parliament voted on Thursday to prolong the ensuring emergency measures another three months.
France led a military intervention in 2013 that drove back militants who had seized Mali's desert north a year earlier. However, Islamist violence is mounting again in West Africa, with militants striking ever further afield.
The attack on the Radisson Blu was followed in January by an assault on a cafe and hotel frequented by foreigners in neighbouring Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou. Dozens were killed. And last month, al Qaeda fighters struck the Ivory Coast beach resort town of Grand Bassam.
(Reporting by Joe Bavier, editing by Larry King)
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