Malian community says France, Mauritania kidnapped civilians
An Arab community in Mali has lodged a law suit against the French and Mauritanian armies, accusing them of kidnapping two civilians after a raid against an Al-Qaeda base, an official said Friday.
"We have filed a complaint against the Mauritanian and French armies for the kidnapping and sequestration of two civilians, just after an attack on a camp in the northwest of Mali," Sidy Mohamed Ould Mohamed, a local councillor for Timbuktu and member of the Arab community, told AFP.
But in Paris, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said that "nobody was detained" and stressed that France's role had been to give "operational and logistical support" for the Mauritanian army.
Ould Mohamed charged that "when the French and Mauritanian soldiers arrived in the camp, after they had killed those they were looking for, they went to a small camp to arrest (...) and kidnap two civilians.
"These are innocent civilians who were taken away. It's arbitrary. We demand their release," he said.
A judicial official in the Timbuktu court confirmed that the complaint had been lodged.
With French support, the Mauritanian army on July 22 carried out a raid against a branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), in which seven of the armed Islamist militants were reported killed.
"Nobody was detained at the end of the Mauritanian operation of July 22 against AQIM, to which France gave logistic and operational support," Valero said.
According to France, the joint operation aimed to free French hostage Michel Germaneau, 78, who had been kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in April, but it failed in this aim and AQIM on Sunday announced that it had executed Germaneau, in revenge for the raid.
The Mauritanian government said that the operation was intended to forestall an attack against Mauritania, which it stated was planned for July 28.
© 2010 AFP