The government played down the concerns and accused the opposition of putting its political interests before the interests of the nation.

“I think at the time of crisis, people should forget about their political differences and disagreements for the sake of the country’s safety,” Sayyed Ahmed, a leader of the majority bloc in parliament, said.

The opposition denied the accusation.

Bitter feud

“No doubt, when there is a danger threatening the country’s sovereignty, we support the Mauritanian forces by all means to sustain stability and sovereignty”, Ould Dada, the leader of CDO, told Al Jazeera in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital.

The Mauritanian government and opposition are already locked in a bitter political conflict over a proposed terrorism act. The government says it will provide security, but the opposition describes it as a setback to civil rights, and “bizarre cloning to George Bush's time".

Mauritanian forces backed by French troops on Friday raided the al-Qaeda affiliated group site inside the Malian territories to free the elderly French hostage, but did not find him.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has set a July 27 deadline for killing Germaneau, the elderly aid worker held hostage since April, unless its demands for a prisoner swap were met.