Mauritanian police raided two houses in the capital city Nouakchott, arresting a suspected al Qaeda operative accused of killing four French tourists. Marouf Ould Haibai, the suspect, attempted to flee dressed as a woman. (Report: J. Jackson)
NOUAKCHOTT, April 10 (Reuters) - Mauritanian police arrested
a suspected al Qaeda militant accused of killing four French
tourists as he attempted to avoid capture disguised as a woman,
a government spokesman said on Thursday.
Marouf Ould Haiba is one of four suspected al Qaeda
militants accused of killing the French tourists during a
roadside picnic last Dec. 24.
Fellow suspect Sidi Ould Sidna escaped from police custody
outside a courtroom last week, sparking a manhunt that has led
to two fatal shootouts in the usually sleepy capital Nouakchott
that have killed three people in as many days.
Police arrested Haiba around midday on Thursday in the
capital Nouakchott's populous Arafat district, government
spokesman Hindou Mint Hainina said.
"He was disguised as a woman and was carrying a weapon under
his dress. He had been trailed by the police for several days
and is currently being questioned in Nouakchott's central police
station," he said.
A police official said Haiba was wearing habaya, the black
robes favoured by some strict Muslim women that cover the head
and entire body with only a small hole for the eyes.
The style of dress has become more common on the streets of
Nouakchott in recent years, but is still fairly rare in a
country where colourful dresses and headscarfs covering only the
hair are more common.
"He was caught thanks to various means of communication
recently put in place," the police official said.
Police have set up a special communications and intelligence
unit to gather information on suspects in the Dec. 24 killing
and other attacks that have roused fears al Qaeda cells in
Morocco and Algeria are moving operations further south.
A policeman and a suspected Islamist militant were killed in
a shootout between police and suspected al Qaeda gunmen on
Monday. One of two civilians injured in a botched police arrest
on Wednesday died later of his wounds.
Date created : 2008-04-10