Armed struggle breaks out in Mauritania?

Twelve Mauritanian soldiers are either killed or missing and possibly taken captive following a Sept. 15 clash with presumed militants of “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb” in the remote north of the country. The location of the attack was variously cited as Tourine or Zouerat, close to the border with Western Sahara. Hundreds of military reinforcements were sent in after an army convoy was ambushed. Nine suspected militants were arrested by security services in Nouakchott over the weekend.

Following the Aug. 6 coup that toppled President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, al-Qaeda’s North Africa wing had issued a statement calling for a holy war in the country. Recent statements from the group had also pledged to obtain the release of its members detained in Mauritania. (Reuters, Sept. 17; BBC, Magharebia, Sept. 15)

Mauritania’s parliament Sept. 14 approved a proposed roadmap for a transition back to democracy. The meeting was boycotted by members of the Rally of Democratic Forces (RFD) of Ahmed Ould Daddah, leader of the military-backed opposition that had supported the coup. (African Press Agency, Sept. 15)

See our last post on Mauritania.