Foreign travel advice

Mauritania

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 such as Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) and other regional Islamist groups like Al Murabitun 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 threat is likely to continue as groups remain intent on demonstrating capability and increasing influence across the region. This threat has been demonstrated by the March 2017 merger of AQ-M Sahel, Ansar al-Dine and al-Murabitun into the new group ‘Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen’. The threat to western interests in the region remains. Read more about the threat from terrorism in the Sahel region.

There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Mauritania from these terrorist groups. There are currently several hostages being held in the region, some of whom have been held for over 3 years.

AQ-M operates directly or through criminal gangs who carry out kidnappings on their behalf or pass on their kidnap victims in return for payment. 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.

When travelling in Mauritania you should take sensible safety precautions. Keep a low profile and maintain a high level of vigilance, particularly in public places and where there are large gatherings of people.

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. You should be vigilant at this time.

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.