Army shoots Mauritania leader ‘by mistake’

By IndepthAfrica
In Mauritania
Oct 14th, 2012

Army shoots Mauritania leader ‘by mistake’

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz has been shot and wounded in what officials say was an accident.

He has undergone a successful operation on his arm and is travelling abroad soon for further treatment, they say.

Earlier, Communications Minister Hamdi Ould Mahjoub said on national TV that a military patrol had mistakenly opened fire on the presidential convoy.
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Mohammad Taha BBC Arabic, Nouakchott

Many Nouakchott inhabitants tend to believe the “shot by mistake” claims as they are used to seeing the president walk in the city, play sport and drive his car without guards.

Some local reports say the president was targeted by a militant group while travelling from Tweila, north of the capital, where he spends most weekends. He was travelling overnight to the capital as the week starts in Mauritania on Sunday.

Hundreds gathered around the military hospital to hear the latest news about the president. News reports confirmed that preparations were being made to arrange his travel abroad for further treatment, other reports said that he was going to France. Many others gathered in the airport to follow the preparations.

Initially, Mauritanian radio reported that Mr Abdelaziz had escaped an assassination attempt.

The minister said Mr Abdelaziz, 55, was injured in the arm and that his life was not in danger.

He was treated for a light injury at a military hospital in the capital, Nouakchott.

“On his way back to Nouakchott, the presidential convoy was shot by a Mauritanian patrol as they did not recognise his convoy,” Mr Mahjoub said.

“The Mauritanian people can be reassured, the president is fine… He got out of the vehicle unassisted upon arrival at the hospital, where he walked in without difficulty.”
Mauritania map

The military hospital remains sealed off by security forces.

Hundreds of people gathered around the hospital to find out what they could about the president, reports BBC Arabic’s Mohammad Taha, from Nouakchott.

President Abdelaziz came to power in a military coup in 2008 in the West African nation. He won presidential elections a year later held under an agreement with coup opponents.

He is seen by the West as a bulwark against Islamists in the region, particularly in neighbouring Mali.

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