Al-Qaida claims Mauritania attack

Israeli envoy: We must use opportunity to reflect on Sderot, where attacks are "part of the daily routine."

mauritania mosque 224 (photo credit: Courtesy François Colin)
mauritania mosque 224
(photo credit: Courtesy François Colin)
A restaurant/disco adjacent to the Israeli Embassy in Nouakchott, and not the embassy itself, was the target of Friday morning's shooting attack in the Mauritanian capital, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) head Yuval Diskin said Sunday. Diskin's comments at the weekly cabinet meeting contradicted claims by an al-Qaida affiliate, reported on Al-Jazeera, that took responsibility for the attack on the embassy in response to Israeli polices in the Gaza Strip. Diskin told the cabinet that a number of details still needed to be clarified, but that only the outer wall of the embassy compound was hit by bullets. Three people, however, were wounded inside the restaurant/disco, which caters to Westerners in the city. An Israeli team has been sent to Nouakchott to assist in the investigation. Israeli diplomatic officials denied reports in the Persian Gulf-based Al-Halij newspaper reported Sunday morning that the attackers had followed Israeli Ambassador Boaz Bizmuth, and that he had left the embassy compound just a few minutes before the attack. The officials said Bizmuth was away from the compound and asleep when the attack took place at about 2:30 Friday morning. Three of the suspected attackers were arrested in the Nouakchott on Saturday morning, after trying to flee from a police roadblock on their way to a getaway car. Mauritania had relatively few incidents of terrorism in recent years, but on Christmas Eve four French tourists were killed by gunmen while picnicking on the side of a road in Mauritania, an act the government blamed on al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa. It was followed by an attack on an army base a few days later. The back-to-back attacks led the French organizers of the famous Dakar Rally to cancel the long-standing trans-Saharan race, which would have traversed this desert nation last month. All three people wounded in Friday morning's attack have French citizenship. AP contributed to this report.