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Wary of militants, Mauritania watches its border with Mali

A Mauritanian soldier on patrol close to the border with Mali   -  
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On a strategic road that leads to the border with Mali, a unit of Mauritania's National Guard is on a reconnaissance operation.

The unit is one of several based in Nema. They have helped secure the corridor close to Mali, which is battling a militant insurgency and a political crisis.

With security restored in the area, Nema residents are only unhappy about the high cost of living.

Traders have to travel 1,200 km to go to the capital Nouakchott to buy vegetables to sell at their stalls.

It is cheaper and shorter to go to Timbkutu or Bamako but the route is not safe.

"There is security here, yes it is normal, but eating here is not easy, it is very expensive to eat here. Meat is very expensive, food is expensive, sometimes there is no salary, we work, we sell apples and onions, but the market remains expensive," said Sidi, a resident of Nema.

Mauritania is a member of the G5 Sahel, a military alliance formed to tackle militant groups which also includes Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad.

"I know that today we consider that we must not give up. We should not say that we have totally won the war on terrorism. If there is no security, there is no development. And if there is no development, there is no security. It is two concepts that complement each other and are intertwined," said Hanena Ould Sidi, Mauritania defence minister.

The country has made strides in recent years towards good governance as a way to prevent youth radicalization.