Al-Qaeda claims Mauritania deaths
Tape reportedly from an arm of the group says it killed four soldiers in Mauritania.
On Thursday officials in Mauritania said that three soldiers died on Wednesday after desert clashes with armed men travelling in two vehicles.
The group is also suspected of killing four French tourists in the southeast of Mauritania on Monday.
These attacks have led to increased security for the forthcoming international motorbike and car race, the Lisbon to Dakar Rally.
Mauritania hosts eight stages of the trans-Sahara race, for which 2,000 soldiers and 1,000 policemen will be assembled for security, officials said.
The race, across several countries, draws thousands of spectators every year.
Yall Zakaria Alassane, Mauritania’s interior minister, said: “There is no reason to fear. We will do everything … to ensure the safety of the rally.”
The rally, which starts in Mauritania on January 5, brings much needed income to remote desert locations.
International rally fears
The rally’s official website contained a statement saying that the organiser’s were willing to go ahead with the race because of the extra troops.
Yet, the statement cautioned: “The rally and its representatives will however remain extremely careful, both before the entry of the rally in Mauritania, but also during the unfolding of the stages concerned.”
The Islamic republic of Mauritania is typically a peaceful nation and has been shocked by the recent attacks.