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Friday, February 1, 2008

Islamists(?) Hit Israeli embassy in Mauritania

This is the sort of attack that in the past has been carried out by Iran or Hezbollah. Look for the involvement of a Hezbollah man called Mornieh.  But it could be local Islamists as well.
Last update - 10:55 01/02/2008       
Three hurt in attack on Israeli embassy in Mauritania
By News Agencies and Haaretz Service
Gunmen opened fire on the Israeli embassy in the Mauritanian capital
Nouakchott early Friday, wounding at least three people, officials and witnesses said.
Israel's Ambassador to the northwest African nation, Boaz Bismuth, said no embassy staff were hurt in the shooting attack, speaking to Israel Radio in a telephone conversation.
A French woman outside a nightclub near the embassy was among those wounded by the gunmen, officials and witnesses said.
Emergency services initially reported that a number of people were wounded in the shooting, but Bismuth said he was only aware of one person who had been hurt outside the embassy, a Mauritanian who lived nearby.
Two witnesses told The Associated Press that the attack had been carried out by a group of men who shouted "God is Great!" in Arabic before opening fire on the embassy around 2 A.M.
Mauritanian officials issued no immediate comment.
Hamza Ould Bilal, a taxi driver who had been parked outside the VIP, a disco next to the embassy, said that six men gathered outside the club before pulling out weapons and attacking. Guards at the embassy traded fire with the gunmen, who fled on foot and jumped into a car, Bilal said.
Ali Fall, a club employee, said several men attacked the embassy with guns before fleeing in a car.
The neighborhood was cordoned off by the Mauritanian military, who prevented journalists and visitors from entering.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and her ministry's Director-General, Aharon Abramovich, spoke to Bismuth shoftly after the incident on Friday morning, Israel Radio reported.
Abramovich told Israel Radio that ties with Mauritania are important to Israel, and expressed the hope that they would be strengthened in the future, in the light of the peace process with the Palestinians.
Speaking to Reuters, Bismuth said: "I have received many phone calls from Mauritanian friends who are very concerned. That is the only positive thing in a very sad night."
"It only happened a few hours ago, but a shooting on a foreign embassy is a very serious incident."
An Israeli security source left for Mauritania on Friday morning to examine the security arrangements at the embassy, Israel Radio reported.
The attack followed recent public calls by political parties in Mauritania, an Islamic Republic which straddles black and Arab Africa, for the government to sever diplomatic ties with Israel. The country is one of the few Arab League states to have relations with Israel.
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 a terror sleeper cell affiliated with Al-Qaida. Their killing 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.

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