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Al-Qaeda affiliate owns attack on embassy

world Updated: Feb 03, 2008 13:04 IST

An Al-Qaeda affiliate has claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on the Israeli embassy in Mauritania's capital, saying the attack aimed to retaliate Israeli policies in the Gaza Strip.

The Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera on Saturday said that Al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa, an affiliate of Osama bin Laden's global terror network, issued a statement saying it had carried out the attack as a reprisal against Israel.

According to reports reaching here, the attack occurred before dawn on Friday, and five local residents were injured in the exchange of fire between the gunmen and the embassy guards.

The injured include Samba Sagho, 61, owner of a restaurant adjacent to the Israeli embassy and his 42-year-old son Sagho Ilyah Almamy. The third injured, a woman of French nationality, who was a client at the restaurant at the time of the attack, was evacuated to Paris.

Mauritania established diplomatic relations with Israel on October 28, 1999, becoming one of the only three member nations of the Arab League to maintain diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip since mid-January has led to growing demand among Mauritanians to sever the country's diplomatic ties with Israel.