Clashes between Mauritanian army and Qaeda militants: source

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Mauritanian soldiers were Friday fighting militants of Al-Qaeda's north African wing, the prime suspect in the kidnapping of five French and two African workers, in Mali, Malian and Mauritanian security sources told AFP.

"The clashes began on the Mauritania-Mali border but then moved on to Malian territory at Hassissidi, about 100 kilometres (about 60 miles) north of Timbuktu," a Malian security source said.

"We are presently in Malian territory and engaged in full combat," added a Mauritanian security source.

Before dawn on Thursday, gunmen kidnapped an employee of the French nuclear group Areva and his wife, both French, and five others, including a Togolese and a Madagascan, from from a uranium mining town in Niger.

© 2010 AFP

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