'Terror threat, anti-Americanism up in N. Africa'

A senior US State Department official said a growing threat from terrorist groups in North African countries is matched by a rise in animosity toward the United States in the region. Testifying at a congressional hearing on North Africa, Assistant Secretary of State David Welch also said the United States views a recent proposal by Morocco to solve its decades-old conflict in the Western Sahara as a positive step toward greater regional stability. Welch told the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives that al-Qaida was expanding its operations in North Africa, but did not have the capacity yet to overturn governments. "The number of spectacular terrorist attacks in the region has risen, terrorist groups are using tactics and attacking targets that they had previously avoided, and terror cells have been discovered in places where they had not been seen before," he said.