CAIRO Ñ Mauritania has acknowledged that the military tried to
overthrow the regime in that Arab League state.
The North African regime said a group within the military had planned to
launch a coup against President Maaouiya
Ould Taya during a scheduled trip to France. Taya was scheduled to travel to
France on Aug. 15 for the 60th anniversary of the end of the Nazi occupation
of that country in 1944, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The plot has been brought under control and its perpetrators arrested,"
Mauritanian Defense Minister Baba Ould Sidi said.
Arab diplomatic sources said 25 officers have been arrested in
connection with the coup attempt. They said the officers were connected to a
foreign-based Islamic fundamentalist movement that tried to overthrow the
regime in 2003. Taya seized power in 1984.
Sidi was quoted by the official AMI news agency as saying that the
officers, identified as members of a group called "Riders of Change," were
to have launched simultaneous attacks on military barracks in Nouakchott and
other cities. He said the plotters sought to kill officers loyal to the Taya
regime then sever telephone links and power in Mauritania.
"Those who planned this new coup attempt are those who led the failed
putsch on June 8, 2003 before fleeing," Sidi said.
Mauritania has been regarded as a key U.S. ally in North Africa and
participant in the war against Al Qaida as part of Washington's Pan Sahel
initiative. Israel and the United States were said to have cooperated in the
training and equipping of Mauritania's military and security forces to
battle internal and external threats.
The North African state has sought to develop its large offshore crude
oil and natural gas reserves. On Aug. 10, a leading contractor, Australia's
Woodside Petroleum, banned travel by staff members and contractors to