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Al-Qaeda fighter breaks out of prison in Mauritania

Cheikh Ould Saleck had been on death row since 2011 over a plot to assassinate the Mauritanian president
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb fighters in a propaganda video (Wikipedia)

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A Mauritanian prisoner sentenced to death for terrorism over an al-Qaeda plot to assassinate the president has escaped from prison, a security source told AFP on Friday.   

Cheikh Ould Saleck, who had been on death row since 2011, was last seen by fellow inmates at Nouakchott central prison at midday Thursday, according to the source. 

"His absence from group prayers in the evening alerted his fellow Islamist inmates, who went to get him and found his cell locked," the source said.

A guard broke into the cell and found a flag of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group's North African franchise, the source added.

Ould Saleck and a fellow AQIM fighter were arrested on the outskirts of the Mauritanian capital in 2011 when the army foiled their plot to kill President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz using two car bombs.

A Mauritanian police officer was killed and eight were wounded in a firefight following the failed attack, while four suspected AQIM members died.

The Nouakchott prison houses more than 30 religious fighters, several on death row, although the country's most dangerous inmates are kept in a different prison garrison.

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