Jihadis target Mauritania?

A Feb. 1 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Mauritania and two other high-profile attacks since December have thrown into question the African republic’s democratic opening. In the latest attack, the façade of the Israeli Embassy in Nouakchott, that capital, was sprayed with machine-gun fire in the early hours of the morning. Guards returned fire and three people leaving a nearby nightclub were wounded. In December, four French tourists and three Mauritanian soldiers were shot dead by men accused of belonging to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Many in Mauritania say the attacks indicate a radicalization of society since a reformist coup in a 2005 ended harsh military rule. “Religious sentiment in Mauritania has become much stronger [since the coup], similar now to many Arab countries,” said Professor Yahya Ould Al-Bara, an anthropologist at the University of Nouakchott. (IRIN, Feb. 1)

See our last posts on Mauritania, the Sahel and al-Qaeda.