Mauritanian police arrested another suspect in the killing of four French tourists last December. Marouf Ould Haiba was disguised as a woman when police arrested him on Thursday in the Arafat district of Nouakchott.
Fellow suspect Sidi Ould Sidna escaped from police custody last week, leading to a manhunt which resulted in the death of three people: A policeman, a suspected Islamist militant and one of two civilians who were injured during police shootouts in Nouakchott.
The two suspects, as well as co-accused, Mohamed Ould Chabarnoux, gunned down four French tourists and wounded a fifth on Christmas Eve, as they had a picnic on a road near the southern town of Aleg in Mauritania.
According to the Mauritanian police, at least two of the three suspected killers were linked to an Algeria-based group formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). The GSPC changed its name to "Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" a year ago, after allying itself with the organization.
These killings reinforce the possibility that Al-Qaeda will use its North African "branch" to commit more terror attacks against Western targets, using activists from Algeria, Morocco and possibly Mauritania as well. Moreover, the links between North African extremists and Islamic communities in Europe could also be used for logistical and operational assistance in future terror attacks in the continent.
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