The United States has sent a military team to
Mauritania to help protect American interests in that Arab League state.
U.S. officials said the Defense Department has sent two military teams
into Mauritania in wake of an unsuccessful coup over the weekend. They said
the teams would be responsible to protect the U.S. embassy as well as other
interests in the North African country.
One team that arrived in Nouakchott was described as a response and
evacuation force, officials said. This force would be on standby and
prepared to quickly evacuate Americans should they be deemed endangered.
A second team that arrived in the Mauritanian capital was meant to
assess the damage from the coup to U.S. interests. Thousands of troops
rebelled against the regime of President Maaouya Taya and for more than a
day air and tank battles raged in and Nouakchott, Middle East Newsline reported.
State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said on Tuesday that the
U.S. military team is composed of 34 soldiers from U.S. European Command.
Reeker said the team would augment U.S. embassy security in Nouakchott and
"aid in the evacuation of American citizens, should that become necessary."
Reeker said all but one of the Americans in Mauritanian are safe and
accounted for. The exception was outside Nouakchott and the State Department
has not received reports that the American has been harmed.
"Right now, we are pleased that the attempted coup has failed, and that
the President Taya has regained control, he and his forces loyal to the
government have regained control of Nouakchott, the capital," Reeker said.
"There have been no reports of rebel activity or violence outside the
On Tuesday, the U.S. embassy reopened its offices in Nouakchott.
Officials said they believe the coup has failed although they could not rule
out a resurgence of anti-regime violence.