Al-Qaeda executes hostage
Bamako - The north African branch of al-Qaeda has executed an Algerian customs officer taken prisoner in June after an attack in which 11 Algerian policemen were killed, sources said on Wednesday.
The al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) branch "led by Abdelkrim Caleb (a Touareg) executed the Algerian customs agent between Monday and Tuesday in the Sahara," a security source told AFP.
He said the agent was "a pensioner, taken prisoner in June during the attack on Algerian positions in the south".
"It is true that the customs officer was killed. Al-Qaeda says it is because the Algerian army was preparing to attack," confirmed a notable Touareg in Kidal in north-eastern Mali.
In late June, AQIM claimed responsibility for an attack against Algerian police ambushed near Tinzaoutine on the border with Mali, where a group of Islamist militants opened fire on their convoy.
According to the Algerian press, 11 police officers responsible for border control had been killed in the attack.
On Wednesday, Mauritania's army foiled an attack on a military barracks in the south-east of the country, stopping an AQIM suicide bomber from entering in a car packed with explosives - which detonated at the entrance to the compound.
The failed attack comes a month after the Mauritanian army launched an offensive on AQIM bases over the border in Mali to pre-empt a strike on military bases at home.
French forces joined in the attack on July 22 in a bid to free a 78-year-old French hostage, Michel Germaneau, who was later executed by AQIM.
Seven AQIM militia were killed in that raid, and the al-Qaeda group has threatened Mauritania and France with reprisals.
After Algeria, Mauritania is one of the countries hardest hit by AQIM activities. The north African branch of Osama bin Laden's terror network operates in a vast desert area across the borders of Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger.