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Mauritanian troops accidentally shoot their president

Mauritanian President was shot and wounded when soldiers “accidentally” fired on his convoy near his country’s capital Nouakchott.

Mauritanian president wounded in
Mauritanian president wounded in "military patrol accident".
Image: Rebecca Blackwell/AP/Press Association Images

MAURITANIAN PRESIDENT MOHAMED Ould Abdel Aziz has been flown to a hospital in Paris, after he was shot and wounded when soldiers “accidentally” fired on his convoy near his country’s capital Nouakchott.

The president’s plane landed at Orly airport south of the French capital and the 55-year-old president was whisked to Percy hospital for treatment. He had already undergone an operation at home to remove a bullet following Saturday’s shooting.

A pale-looking Aziz, who has in the past been targeted by Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in his country, earlier appeared on television from his hospital bed in Nouakchott, telling Mauritanians the surgery had been a “success”.

“I want to reassure them about my health after this incident, which was committed in error by a military unit,” he said.

File image of  Mauritanian soldiers. Image by Candace Feit/AP/Press Association Images.

Mauritanian Foreign Minister Hamadi Ould Hamadi said Saturday’s shooting had no political impact in the impoverished northwest African nation.

A security source had earlier said that the president, a former general who has been in power since leading an August 2008 military coup, had been directly targeted in the incident.

Communications Minister Hamdi Mahjoub played down the shooting, saying Aziz was only “slightly wounded” and that the soldiers had not realised it was the presidential convoy.

In Mauritania, opposition lawmakers accuse Aziz of despotism and mismanagement in the largely desert nation.

They also charge that he has failed to heed commitments made in the Dakar accords that led to his election in 2009, a year after he seized power in a coup d’etat.

The opposition wants a transition government to take over from Aziz and find a way out of the crisis, dealing with issues such as unemployment, slavery and attacks on human rights.

Aziz, who headed the presidential guard before the coup, has insisted he will not resign, despite a series of opposition protests.

Read: Ex-Gaddafi official arrested in Mauritania >

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