In an internet statement dated September 23 2008, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack on a Mauritanian army convoy in Azouirat, which killed 12 Mauritanian soldiers on September 14th. According to the statement, the attack, which was carried out under the leadership of Abu Abdel Hamid Abu Zaid, aimed to avenge "innocent prisoners jailed in Mauritanian jails." The group advised soldiers enrolled in the army to "repent and draw themselves from the ranks of the army. "Staying in the army provides protection for the injustice and corruption regime .. it supports the Jewish Crusader presence in the country and keeps the Israeli flag flying high in the skies of Nouakchott ."
A senior official of the ruling military junta had announced last Saturday that 12 Mauritanian soldiers who were abducted in an attack on their patrol claimed by al Qaeda have been found killed with their heads cut off.
© 2008 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.