Mauritania frees Malians detained after raid on Al-Qaeda

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The Mauritanian army has freed two Malian nationals it detained after raiding a branch of Al-Qaeda last month with French military support, an official and a relative said Wednesday.

An Arab community in Mali had lodged a lawsuit against the French and Mauritanian armies last month, accusing them of kidnapping the two after a July 22 raid against a Mali base of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

"Our two citizens taken in the Timbuktu region after the French-Mauritanian raid on July 22 have been freed by the Mauritanian army," a regional government official told AFP.

"Our relatives unfairly taken away by the Mauritanian army have been freed," Mamoud Ould Maouloud told AFP.

"The Mauritanians apologised and even gave them compensation," he said, without giving details.

France said the joint raid aimed to free French hostage Michel Germaneau, 78, kidnapped in April. AQIM announced later it executed Germaneau in revenge for the raid, in which several militants were killed.

France denied Mali nationals were detained and said its role had been to give "operational and logistical support" for the Mauritanian army.

The Mauritanian government said the operation was intended to forestall an attack against Mauritania.

© 2010 AFP

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