French suspect in planned Indonesia attack now in Mauritania

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A French national accused by Indonesian authorities of having being involved in a planned attack in their country, is currently in Mauritania, the French embassy in Nouakchott said Wednesday.

Frederic Jean Salvi, who goes under the alias Ali and denies the accusations, "physically contacted the consular authorities at the embassy a few days ago and said he was living in Mauritania," a source at the embassy said on condition of anonymity.

"He said he was here and that he had nothing to do with the charges of which he is the object" in Indonesia, added the source who did not report any arrest warrant or proceeding initiated against Salvi.

On August 17 the head of counterterrorism at the Indonesian security ministry, Ansyaad Mbai, told AFP that Salvi had a history of militant extremism in France was reportedly working with Al-Qaeda militants to prepare attacks in Jakarta such as those carried out in 2008 in Bombay, India.

During anti-terrorism raids on the western Indonesian island of Java on August 7, police arrested five suspects and seized explosives in an illegal bomb manufacturing workshop.

They also found a car belonging to a French national believed to have been intended to commit a suicide car bomb.

The police then announced they had sought assistance from Interpol to trace the owner of the vehicle.

"He (Salvi) helped the terrorists by giving them his car," Mbai alleged. "We are investigating whether the car could have been used for a car bomb."

Since the discovery last February of a terrorist training camp in Aceh, northern Sumatra, Indonesian police have arrested 102 people across the country of whom 70 are still in custody.

Mauritania is one of the Sahel countries in which Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is active, and several kidnappings have taken place there.

Last week an attempted suicide bombing at a military barracks in the east of the country was foiled by troops.

© 2010 AFP

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