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Old 7 Jun 2005
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MAURITANIA: 15 dead in attack on military barracks


NOUAKCHOTT, 6 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - Troop reinforcements were being sped to the remote northeast reaches of Mauritania on Monday after a weekend attack blamed by the government on Islamists left at least 15 soldiers dead and 13 injured.

In the capital Nouakchott, scores of people waited anxiously at the military hospital for news of family after the assault at the remote Lemghayti military barracks in the far northeast near the border with Mali and Algeria.

Moving into crisis mode, Prime Minister Sghaier Ould Mbareck called in the leaders of the political opposition to discuss what the government claims was an attack by Algerian Islamists.

Defence Minister Baba Ould Sidi has placed the armed forces on high alert and sent troop reinforcements to the area.

At a specially convened press conference on Sunday, Ould Sidi deplored the "assassination in cold blood of Mauritanian soldiers by the attackers."

He said that between five and nine of the attackers were also killed.

So far, the only information on what took place in Lemghayti comes from government planes that have flown over the barracks that normally house 780 soldiers. The government has warned that the death toll could be higher.

According to the government, attackers struck the barracks in the small hours of Saturday morning. Some of the soldiers had had their throats slit, the government said.

The government blamed the Salafist Group for Prayer and Combat (GSPC), linked by the US military to Al Qaeda - the Islamic organisation responsible for the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on 11 September 2001.

The United States later this month is to begin a multi-million dollar anti-terrorism training programme in nine west and north African countries considered fertile ground for radical Islamic combatants.

The programme will cost the US government US $100 million each year for five years.

The Mauritanian authorities over the last three months have cracked down against Islamists accused of links with radical Islamic movements.

But critics have accused President Maaouiya Ould Taya of targeting government opponents under the guise of a US-inspired war on terror.

Jemil Ould Mansour, a Mauritanian Islamist leader who is on the run from the Mauritanian authorities, denied that Islamists were responsible for the attack and called for calm in a statement issued on an Islamist website.

"This is not the time for revenge and wrongdoings. All such action must stop to prevent such acts finding fertile ground to be repeated in our country," said Ould Mansour.

Mauritania's northeastern border region is inaccessible and notoriously difficult to police. Traders using caravans of camels roam the region where smuggling is made easy by the remote and hostile nature of the terrain.
Desert Crocodiles of Mauritania: http://cibio.up.pt/crocodilos/en
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Old 8 Jun 2005
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Great, we were about to leave for Mauritania next week...
Any updates on developments there will be appreciated.
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Old 8 Jun 2005
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The incident took place in the remote NE corner of Mauritania, close to border with Algeria and Mali.
That is, far way from the "normal" routes taken. I think that there will no problem in the coast and even inland around Atar or Tidjikja.

just take care if you're planning to go El Ghallaouya and behond.

Desert Crocodiles of Mauritania: http://cibio.up.pt/crocodilos/en
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Old 9 Jun 2005
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This is the latest...

MAURITANIA: Algerian group claims responsibility for attack on military barracks

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

© www.lereseau.org

NOUAKCHOTT, 7 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - An Algerian group known as the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC), on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a weekend attack on a Mauritanian military barracks in which at least 15 soldiers were killed, some with their throats slit.

In a communiqué posted on its website, the Islamist group said that the attack on a remote desert barracks close to the Algerian and Malian borders, was carried out to avenge the imprisonment of other Islamists in Mauritania.

"The action was in revenge for the violence perpetrated against our brothers in prison," said the communiqué.

The authenticity of the document posted late on Monday, and available on www.jihad-algerie.com could not be validated and came after the Mauritanian government already had blamed the GSPC for the attack in a press conference on Sunday.

Since mid-March, President Maaouiya Ould Taya has carried out a series of arrests against people described as Islamic militants. Over thirty remain in detention.

However, local religious leaders and the Brussels-based think-tank, the International Crisis Group, say Ould Taya is using Western fears of Islamic fundamentalism and global terrorism as a pretext to muzzle his political opponents.

Ould Taya seized power in a 1984 coup and has survived three attempted coups in the last two years.

The GSPC was set up in 1998 born out of the Islamist resistance movement to a secular government in Algeria.

Though originally active only in Algeria, a crackdown by increasingly better-trained and equipped security forces at home has led GSPC and its members to become increasingly active across the borders.

In previous statements issued by the group, the GSPC has outlined its intention to fully participate in attacks against the United States and its partners.

Mauritania is an Islamic republic, but Ould Taya angered many Arab states when he established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1999, in what critics said was a bid to curry favour with the US.

In what was seen as a further bid to woo the superpower, Ould Taya dropped relations with then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein shortly before the US-led invasion.

According to the US state department, GSPC is linked to Al-Qaeda, which claimed responsibility for the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre, and some of the original members of the GSPC fought with Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.

Mauritania is an impoverished and vast desert country but recent deep sea oil discoveries off its Atlantic coast promise to send government revenues soaring, albeit from a very low base.

On the basis of discoveries announced so far, oil analysts expect production to reach 165,000 barrels per day in 2009. At current prices of over US $50 per barrel, that would pour an extra $300 million a year.

That's equivalent to 25 percent of GNI in 2001, according to figures from the World Bank.

But as more and more shiny new four wheel drives appear on the dusty streets of the capital Nouakchott, critics doubt that the oil bonanza will do much to assist the majority of Mauritanians who are illiterate and struggle to survive on less than one dollar a day.

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Old 13 Jun 2005
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As the location of the incident is far away from "regular" touristic travel and has some "strange aspects" (date corresponding with military exercises & political developments, alot of media exchange betrween the countries around, "funny" evidence like the registration of an abandoned vehicle...) I would think nothing has changed:
There are some bandits in the eastern region and if one's at the wrong place at the wrong time, but the specific incident does not change regular risk evaluation - I personally would avoid these regions, but a lot of travellers had no problems at all.

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Old 25 Jun 2005
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Cant find Lemghayti anywhere - I presume they mean Chegga?

This is NOT a handbook
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Old 25 Jun 2005
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gh = r
makes "El Mreiti" on our maps
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