Al-Qaeda Suspects Held in Mauritania Over Killings, U.S. Says
By Rose Skelton
Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Five citizens of Mauritania suspected of belonging to al-Qaeda were in custody in connection with the killing of four French tourists in the northwest African country, said the U.S. ambassador in the capital, Nouakchott.
The Mauritanians were expelled from Guinea Bissau on Jan. 12 over allegations they were involved in the Dec. 24 attack on the French nationals, who were members of the same family. The tourists, two of them children, were shot near a roadside in southwestern Mauritania. Two of the suspects admitted they were al-Qaeda members, Reuters said, citing police in Guinea Bissau.
``They are in the custody of Mauritanian police,'' Ambassador Mark Boulware said today in a phone interview. ``Their involvement and the motive of the attack remains to be seen.''
Officials at the French Embassy in Nouakchott declined to comment.
The Dakar Rally, a two-week, 6,000-kilometer (3,729-mile) motor race between Lisbon and the Senegalese capital of Dakar, was canceled for the first time since its inception in 1979 after the killings. Eight of the 15 stages of the race were to take place in Mauritania.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rose Skelton in Dakar via Johannesburg at email@example.com .
Last Updated: January 14, 2008 09:32 EST