x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Mauritania president in France for surgery after shooting

President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was transferred to Paris for surgery after being wounded when the military fired on his vehicle outside the capital.

NOUAKCHOTT // Mauritania’s president was flown to France for surgery yesterday after the western ally against Al Qaeda was shot by soldiers in what he said was an accident.

The shooting late on Saturday set the coup-prone north-west African country on edge and the president, Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, appealed to Mauritanians to keep calm.

Although the country has been stable since Mr Abdel Aziz seized power in 2008, it lies on the fringes of the Sahara Desert where Islamist gunmen hold increasing sway. “I want to reassure everyone about my state of health after this incident committed by error,” said Mr Abdel Aziz. “Thanks to God, I am doing well.”

Medical sources said he had been shot in the abdomen.

Mr Abdel Aziz was wounded when a military patrol opened fire on his convoy about 40km from the capital, Nouakchott.
Officials did not say what had happened to the soldiers who had opened fire on the convoy.

Mauritania has launched military operations on Islamists in neighbouring Mali before a rebellion split that country in two in March, leaving much of it in the hands of groups linked to Al Qaeda. Mr Abdel Aziz’s seizure of power cut short the rule of Mauritania’s first democratically elected president, who had reached out to Islamists.