Al-Qaeda: 'We attacked Israeli Embassy'

Ad Feedback - Arab satellite television al-Jazeera carried an unverified announcement Saturday by an al-Qaeda affiliate claiming responsibility for Friday's shooting attack near the Israeli embassy in Mauritania.

According to an Associated Press report, a gun battle ensued after at least one gunman opened fire near the embassy in the capital city of Nouakchoot.

Several bystanders were wounded during the fire fight, including three French citizens at a disco and restaurant next to the embassy.

During a security briefing at Sunday's Cabinet meeting, Shin Bet (General Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin told ministers that al-Jazeera's report claiming the Israeli embassy was the target of the attack was inaccurate.

Al-Jazeera reported that an al-Qaeda affiliate in Islamic North Africa, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, issued a statement saying the attack was a retaliation against Israeli policies in the Gaza Strip.

Diskin said that bullets penetrated only the outer wall of the embassy, while the three victims of the assault were inside the restaurant.

A team of Israelis has been dispatched to Nouakchott to help with the investigation.

On Saturday morning, police arrested three suspects fleeing a police roadblock.

The same terror cell claimed responsibility for simultaneous bombings of U.N. offices in Algiers and a government building on December 11, which killed 37 people. The group also claimed responsibility for killing several soldiers in Mauritania in December.

On Christmas Eve, four French tourists were gunned down while picnicking on the side of the road, which the Mauritania government blamed on an al-Qaeda-affiliated terror cell.

A year ago, a senior al-Qaeda operative released a video calling for an attack on Israel's embassy in Nouakchott, according to a transcript by Ben Venzke, head of the U.S.-based IntelCenter.

Israel has had diplomatic relations with predominately Muslim Mauritania since 1999.

Source: The Associated Press

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