Twelve Mauritanian soldiers have been killed, on Monday 09/15/2008, by suspected MAGHREB al-Qaeda operatives in a battle 850 km north of the capital Nouakchott, a senior military official has said.

Armed men ambushed an army unit patrolling the desert in Tourine, about 850km north of Nouakchott, a lieutenant-colonel told the Associated Press news agency. The attack is yet another example of Muslims killing Muslims in Behalf of Allah and Jihad.

The attack was the highest number of deaths suffered by the army since 2005, when fighters linked to Algeria’s former Salafist Group for Call and Combat – GSPC killed 15 soldiers in an assault on a desert outpost in Mgheiti.

Al Qaeda in Islamic North Africa had called for a holy war to avenge the 08/06/2008 overthrow by the military of Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, Mauritania’s first freely elected president.

Since the 2005 attack, the Group for Call and Combat – GSPC has represented itself as a branch of Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network operating in northern Africa.

The United States had sent dozens of troops to train Mauritania’s military in the far northern deserts, hoping the country could act as a bulwark against the southward encroachment of Al Qaeda -linked operatives in North Africa. But USA suspended those programmes along with more than $20m in aid after the August coup.

In 12/2007, armed men believed to be linked to Al Qaeda murdered four French tourists, prompting organizers of the famous Dakar Rally to cancel the race this year (see – Aleg Attack).


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