The killers of four French tourists in Mauritania are now thought to be part of a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda in North Africa. The tourists were attacked some 250 km east of the capital Nouakchott. Police initially suspected robbery, but now say Islamic militants may have been behind the murders.
Francois Tollet was shot in the legs, but survived the attack and was flown to neighbouring Senegal for treatment. His brother, two grown-up sons and a family friend died. The killings have shocked Mauritania, which is a former French colony which straddling on the edge of the Sahara. There is a fledgling desert tourism industry, and there are fears about security for next month’s Dakar rally which will pass through Mauritania before finishing in Senegal.
Local news reports said several suspects have been arrested, and who are linked to an Algerian-based terror group allied to al-Qaeda. In September, al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri called on North African Muslims to “cleanse” their lands of French and Spanish people.