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Escaped Mauritanian Al-Qaeda death row prisoner held in Guinea

Nouakchott: A Mauritanian Al-Qaeda jihadist, on death row until his escape on New Year’s Eve, was re-arrested after crossing the Guinea-Bissau border into Guinea, security sources said today.

“Cheikh Ould Saleck, was on the run for three weeks, and from Mauritania entered Senegal then Guinea-Bissau,” a high-ranking police source who asked not to be identified told AFP.

He said Ould Saleck, 31, was arrested last night near the border there, but security sources in Guinea and Guinea-Bissau said he was nabbed inside Guinea, not far from the border.

A Mauritanian source said the escaped prisoner would “soon” be extradited back home.

Prior to his arrest, Ould Saleck, on death row since 2011 over an Al-Qaeda plot to assassinate Mauritania’s president, was last seen by fellow inmates at Nouakchott’s central prison at midday on December 31.

His absence from evening prayers that day alerted his fellow inmates, who went to fetch him and found his cell locked.

A guard smashed open the door and found a flag of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s north African franchise, according to a prison source.

Ould Saleck’s wife and sister, who visited him often in prison, were arrested on January 4 in Nouakchott.

Three Mauritanians and a Guinea Bissau national, armed with automatic weapons, were arrested near the border yesterday by Guinean police, according to Guinean security sources who did not confirm that Ould Saleck was among them.