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Latest update : 2008-09-21

The bodies of 11 Mauritanian soldiers and one civilian, missing for a week, were found decapitated in the desert, said the defence ministry Saturday. A Salafist / al Qaeda group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The decapitated bodies of 12 Mauritanians, missing since an ambush on a patrol last week in the north of the country, have been found in the desert, the defence ministry said Saturday.
The defence ministry said the attack was launched by an Al-Qaeda linked outfit called the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which has renamed itself Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb.
"The ambush sprung on Sunday by an armed group of the GSPC against a military patrol ... cost the lives of 12 martyrs," said a defence ministry statement.
The ruling junta, which took power in a military coup on August 6, declared three days of mourning from Sunday.
The dead men -- 11 soldiers and one civilian -- were found Friday, in the desert 30 kilometres northeast (20 miles) of the northern town of Tourine, and all had been beheaded, said a security source who asked not to be named.
On Thursday, a statement purporting to be from the GSPC appeared on a website, claiming responsibility for the attack.
The statement was seen on, a website not known to Al-Qaeda specialists that was created last month with a host computer in Lebanon's capital Beirut.
Officials had initially said 12 soldiers were killed in the ambush, although later the troops were listed as missing.

Date created : 2008-09-21