RealNews

Fighting Flares Again in Mauritanian Capital

Mauritania’s capital trembled to the sound of shelling Monday as renegade soldiers fought for a second day with troops loyal to the northwest African country’s president, a rare Arab friend of Israel. Officials of President Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya, who is facing his toughest test since taking power in a bloodless 1984 coup, said special forces were mopping up isolated pockets of resistance. Previous announcements that the crisis was over have however proved premature. It was unclear who held the presidency after it was stormed by the dissident soldiers Sunday. Residents said loyalist reinforcements who rolled into town overnight had seized the airport. Sporadic gunfire continued elsewhere. “There are just pockets. They are being cleaned out,” said one official. Split between black Africans and light-skinned Arabs, the almost exclusively Muslim country has recently been gripped by unease over the arrest of dozens of Taya’s Islamist opponents. The Arab president’s friendship with Israel finds little favor in the largely desert country, where Saharan sand dunes roll down to the Atlantic coast. Full Story

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