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.
There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Mauritania from these terrorist groups. Although 2 foreign victims were released in May and August 2017 after years in captivity, several foreign hostages are still held by factions of JNIM in the Sahel.
Victims in the region have included construction workers, humanitarian workers, tourists and diplomats, often people travelling under tight security arrangements. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.
JNIM 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. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.
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.