Senegal detains 900 people in security drive

January 27, 2016, 4:56am

Security in Senegal has been raised following militant attacks in other West African nations. Photo: AFP on BBC News

BBC News

Police in Senegal have detained 900 people as part of a security operation following militant attacks in Burkina Faso and Mali.

The detentions, which were not terror-related, took place over the weekend in the capital Dakar and Thies.

The assaults on a hotel in Mali and a hotel and restaurant in Burkina Faso, both claimed by Islamists, have raised security fears in the region.

Senegal has been comparatively safe but is a popular tourist destination. After jihadists strike Burkina Faso and Mali, where next?

Last week the Senegalese government ordered hotels to improve security or face closure. Senegalese security forces would also step up patrols, the interior minister said.

Eyewitnesses report that presence is already being felt, with police being seen in higher numbers and many vehicles searched.

Those detained over the weekend were not targeted as terror suspects but as part of the wider security alert, officials said. Their offences ranged from possessing drugs to having incorrect documents for their vehicles, according to the authorities.

"Security has been reinforced on all levels,'' justice ministry spokesman Soro Diop was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said it was behind the attack in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, last month that killed 30 people.

The Islamist militant group also claimed the siege on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, in November last year, that left 20 people dead.

AQIM is based in the Sahara Desert and roams between Mali, Niger and Algeria. Senegal has so far avoided a major attack by Islamist militants, despite sharing a border with Mali.