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Operation Against Al Qaida: France Acknowledges Having Provided Support.

Translated Monday 23 August 2010, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Bill Scoble

French authorities announced Friday July 23 that they had provided “technical and logistical support” to the Mauritanian operation conducted on Thursday July 22 against an Al Qaida au Maghreb islamique (AQMI) group involved in the holding of the French hostage Michel Germaneau.

In a communiqué, the Ministry of Defense “confirmed that French military forces provided technical and logistical backing to a Mauritanian operation aimed at preventing an attack on Mauritania by Al Qaida au Maghreb islamique (AQMI).”

“The group of terrorists targeted by the Mauritanian army is the one that executed a British hostage a year ago, and which refuses to provide proof that Michel Germaneau is alive, or to engage in a dialogue leading to the liberation of our fellow citizen Michel Germaneau,” the text continues.

The British tourist Edwin Dyer was murdered in June 2009 after having been held for several months by the group.

The operation “conducted by the Mauritanians made it possible to neutralize the group of terrorists and to thwart the planned attack against Mauritanian objectives,” the Ministry added. It did not indicate the exact area where the operation occurred.

An official Mauritanian source indicated that the attack had “made it possible to kill and to wound a certain number of armed terrorists.”

On Thursday, the Mauritanian army conducted an operation against “a base” of Al Qaida “in the desert” where it killed “armed terrorists” an official Mauritanian source confirmed, refusing to say whether the raid was an attempt to free the French hostage in Mali.

According to a Malian mediator involved in the liberation of many European hostages in the region, it was an attempt – believed to have failed – to free the French hostage Michel Germaneau, who is being held in northern Mali.

The Spanish daily newspapers El Pais and ABC stated on Thursday on their Internet sites that “French special forces had failed” in their attempt to liberate by force the French hostage in the Malian desert.

The Spanish newspapers, quoting diplomatic sources, stated that six presumed terrorists had been killed and that others had succeeded in escaping in the course of the operation conducted early Thursday morning in an unidentified location.

The Maghreb branch of Al Qaida threatened to kill Michel Germaneau, a 78-year-old Frenchman, who was abducted in Niger on April 19, if it did not obtain the liberation of several of its members held in different North African countries by July 26.

In northern Mali, AQMI is also holding two Spaniards abducted almost eight months ago in Mauritania, Albert Vilalta, 35, and Roque Pascual, 50.

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