Security forces in Mauritania and bordering Senegal and Mali are hunting the three suspected killers of the French tourists.
 
Two of the suspects are alleged to have links with the Algeria-based group formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which is accused of attacks in North Africa.
 
The GSPC has changed its name to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb after allying itself to mainstream al-Qaeda.
 
The two attacks come as Mauritanian authorities prepare to host the high-profile Lisbon to Dakar Rally that will start January 5 and cross through Morocco and Mauritania en route to Senegal.