Page last updated at 15:31 GMT, Monday, 15 September 2008 16:31 UK

Troops die in Mauritania ambush

Map of Mauritania

Twelve Mauritanian soldiers have been killed in an ambush by suspected Islamist rebels, officials have said.

The attack occurred east of Zouerat, close to the border with Western Sahara, officials said.

They indicated that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has been blamed for previous attacks in the country, could be responsible.

The group had threatened action after a recent coup that toppled Mauritania's first democratically elected president.

Following the 6 August coup, an internet message attributed to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb urged Mauritanians to take up arms against the military leaders who seized power.

The group is largely based in neighbouring Algeria but was blamed for the killing of four French tourists in Mauritania last December.

It was also believed to be behind an attack on the Israeli embassy in the capital, Nouakchott, two months later.

The US has identified the desert regions of Mauritania and its neighbours as a potential haven for Islamist militants, setting up joint-security programmes in the area.

But the US also suspended more than $20m (11m) in non-humanitarian aid following the August coup.

Al Jazeera Mauritanian coup leaders name PM - 7 hrs ago
ABC Online Mauritania junta names respected diplomat as PM - 13 hrs ago
CNN Mauritania's junta appoints prime minister - 21 hrs ago
Washington PostMauritania junta names ex-ambassador prime minister - 24 hrs ago
New StatesmanA welcome coup - 29 hrs ago
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