Terrorism

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Mauritania, including kidnapping. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

The porous nature of borders in the Sahel region - of which Mauritania is a part - means terrorist groups are able to operate across borders and carry out attacks anywhere in the region.

As seen in Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, terrorist groups continue to mount attacks on beach resorts, hotels, cafes and restaurants visited by foreigners. Be especially vigilant in these locations.

The main threat comes from groups associated with Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeer (JNIM). JNIM formed in March 2017 following the merger of Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar-al-Dine and al-Murabitun. These groups remain intent on demonstrating capability and increasing influence across the wider region. Read more about the threat from terrorism in the Sahel region.

Kidnap

There’s a significant threat of kidnapping in Mauritania from terrorist groups, particularly along the border with Mali. Terrorist kidnappers have previously targeted foreigners, government officials and civilians, and several foreign hostages are still held by factions of Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) in the Sahel. Security precautions do not mitigate the threat.

Criminal gangs also carry out kidnappings, and there’s a high risk that they would sell hostages on to terrorist groups. See our Sahel page for information on the Sahel regional threat.

There is a threat of kidnapping by groups operating in North Africa, particularly from Libya, Mauritania and groups originating in the Sahel. This includes Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-IM) and Daesh-affiliated groups, who may travel across the region’s porous border. There is a heightened risk of kidnap in border and remote desert areas of North Africa. Terrorist groups have kidnapped foreigners, government officials and civilians in the region for financial gain and for political leverage. Further kidnaps are likely.

Those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.