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Algerian jihadist behind Niger attack

24 May 2013, 16:21

Accra - A twin suicide attack that killed at least 21 people in northern Niger was planned by Algerian Islamist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, Mauritanian news website Al-Akhbar reported on Friday.

"It was Belmokhtar who directly supervised the attacks" that hit an army barracks in the northern town of Agadez and a French uranium mine near Arlit on Thursday, the spokesperson of Belmokhtar's group was quoted as saying.

Signatories in Blood spokesman Hassan Ould Khalil said the attacks were coordinated with the Movement for the Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), which had claimed the attacks.

The MUJWA, along with two other extremist groups, last year took control of neighbouring Mali's vast north.

Belmokhtar is an Algerian Islamist commander, who was behind January's bloody hostage-taking at a gas plant in Algeria.

The Niger attacks were carried out to revenge the death of Abou Zeid, an al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb leader, Ould Khalil said.

About Zeid was reportedly killed in northern Mali by the French army in February, a month after France launched Operation Serval to oust Islamist insurgents from the West African country's north.

The attack on the uranium mine run by French company Areva was aimed at French security forces protecting the site, Ould Khalil said.



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