A Senegalese court has placed four alleged members of a jihadist cell in pre-trial detention, a legal official told AFP on Thursday.
Gendarmes in the West African state arrested the men in late January in the eastern town of Kidira, which lies on the border with Senegal’s war-torn neighbor Mali, according to local press.
Investigators suspect one of the men, a shopkeeper, of having acted as a recruiter for the Katiba Macina jihadist group. He denies the accusation, however.
Katiba Macina is one of the key armed groups in the Al-Qaeda-aligned Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) — one of the largest jihadist alliances operating in neighboring Mali.
A legal official who declined to be named told AFP that the four men were placed in pre-trial detention in the Senegalese capital Dakar on Wednesday.
They are facing charges of criminal association and terrorist affiliation, he added.
Mali has been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that first emerged in 2012, killing thousands of soldiers and civilians and displacing hundreds of thousands more.
The conflict has since spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, inflaming ethnic tensions along the way.
Senegal has so far been spared jihadist attacks, but there are growing fears that GSIM fighters are seeking to expand beyond Mali.