Last week, Mauritanian forces intercepted a three-car convoy of AQIM suspects who may have been attempting either to assassinate Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz or to attack the French embassy in Nouakchott. Mauritanian soldiers arrested the occupants on one car and exploded another, but several suspects remained on the loose until Saturday.
A suspected member of al Qaeda’s north African wing blew himself up in southern Mauritania on Saturday after security forces cornered him, according to army and national guard sources.
A second suspect was captured alive in the incident in the remote Brakna region, near the border with Senegal, they said.
The national guard source said the two militants on Saturday were discovered after local people alerted authorities. He said Senegalese forces had raised security along the border to prevent them from escaping.
I am glad that the suspects did not make it to Senegal, as some feared last week. According to this document from the Congressional Research Service (.pdf, p. 9), AQIM “has attempted to set up transit points and facilitation networks in Senegal, though it has not launched attacks there. The State Department reported that Senegalese authorities ‘cooperated with the United States to identify terrorist groups operating in Senegalese territory,’ but that Senegal ‘lacked specific counterterrorism legislation and current laws made it difficult to prosecute terrorist suspects’.”
Mauritanian forces appear to have successfully foiled this plot.