French embassy attacker captured in Mali after jail break

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A 24-year-old Tunisian responsible for an explosion at the French embassy in Bamako in January, was arrested in northern Mali on Wednesday two days after escaping from prison, police sources said.

"This Wednesday we arrested the Tunisian who escaped from prison on Monday. He was arrested in Gao where he was trying to cross into Algeria," said the source.

Bachir Simoun's escape led to the sacking of the director of state security Mami Coulibaly and several men responsible for guarding him in a secret location.

The circumstances of the escape were not clear.

The prisoner reportedly harboured a "personal hatred for France" and told police he had wanted to prove something to his former Al-Qaeda comrades.

In his interrogation he said he spent "four months in the camps of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" in the Sahara where he underwent "ideological and military training."

After becoming "angry with AQIM" he left the camps for Senegal to sell mobile phones.

Wanting to show his old AQIM comrades he was "able to strike a blow on his own" he came to Mali and targeted the French embassy, he told police.

The bombing on January 5 appeared ill-prepared and sources differed on whether it was a gas cylinder which exploded or a grenade.

© 2011 AFP

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