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 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 10:50 GMT
Gambia arrests assassination suspect
Map showing Senegal and Gambia
The Gambian authorities say they are questioning a man suspected of being involved in an alleged assassination plot against the United States ambassador to the country.

Interior Minister Ousmane Badjie said the man was arrested on Thursday in a motel on the outskirts of the capital, Banjul, on a tip-off.

The US State Department said on Friday that two men had been arrested in the Gambia in connection with a possible threat to the US ambassador, Jackson McDonald.

It was not clear whether the second man had been released.

US officials have travelled to the Gambia to help with the investigation.

Non African

Mr Badjie did not reveal the suspect's identity or nationality, but said he was not an African.

"Presently, the man is helping security agents in their investigations. I do not want to pre-empt the interrogation, so I cannot tell you his nationality," he said.

A US State Department official said that the United States took the arrests "very seriously".

President Yahya Jammeh
The Gambia has distanced itself from radical Islam

"We thank the government of the Gambia for their excellent assistance to the embassy on security matters, and to the United States on the war on terrorism," the unidentified source told the Associated Press news agency.

The agency says that in November last year, Gambian media reported the arrests of four Middle Eastern men suspected by the government of links to the terror network, al-Qaeda.

The men were released in December after being questioned by US investigators, Gambian newspapers said.

Gambia, which won independence from Britain in 1965, is a predominantly Muslim nation of 1.5 million.

Three years ago, President Yahya Jammeh denied reports that he planned to introduce Islamic Sharia law.

See also:

31 Oct 02 | England
04 Jul 02 | Business
22 Feb 02 | Africa
29 Jun 02 | Country profiles
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