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Attack in Mauritania kills 6 suspected militants

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: An attack on a terror group in Mauritania kills six suspected militants
  • The operation is against al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
  • The group is suspected in kidnappings of foreigners

(CNN) -- Six suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in an attack on a terror group in the North African nation of Mauritania, a top official said Friday.

Four other members of the group -- called al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb -- escaped the operation led by the Mauritanian army near the border with Mali, Interior Minister Mohammed Ould Boilil said. The attack was prompted by intelligence that indicated the group was targeting a military base in Baskno.

He thanked the French government for its support in the operation and for facilitating intelligence.

The French military provided "technical support" to Mauritania in the operation, the French defense ministry said earlier Friday. The operation "made it possible to neutralize the terrorist group and to crush their plans of attack against Mauritanian objectives."

No other details were released on the attack.

The group has been suspected in kidnappings of foreigners -- including 78-year-old French director Michel Germaneau, who was abducted in Niger on April 19.

After word of the attack came out, Spain noted that two Spanish volunteers, Roque Pasqual and Alber Miralta, who are also being held in the region, were not harmed in the operation.

"The Spanish volunteers are fine ... their kidnappers are not the same kidnappers of the French citizen," said Mara Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, the first vice-president of Spain.