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PARIS: Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was admitted to a French military hospital yesterday after being shot and wounded when soldiers “accidentally” fired on his convoy near the capital Nouakchott.
The 55-year-old president was taken to Percy hospital in the suburbs of Paris for treatment after undergoing an operation at home to remove a bullet following Saturday’s shooting. A pale-looking Ould Abdel Aziz, who has in the past been targeted by Al Qaeda-linked militants in his country, earlier appeared on television from his hospital bed in Nouakchott, telling Mauritanians the surgery had been a “success”.
“I want to reassure them about my health after this incident, which was committed in error by a military unit,” he said.
“Thanks be to God, there is no problem,” added the president, who was joined at his bedside by his Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdhaf and top civilian and military figures.
Late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was also treated at the Percy hospital where he died at the age of 75 in November 2011. Investigations have now been launched into allegations that Arafat was poisoned.
Mauritanian Foreign Minister Hamadi Ould Hamadi said Saturday’s shooting had no political impact in the impoverished northwest African nation.
The president “is exercising the full range of his powers. He is absent, that happens sometimes: he travels to summits, he goes to conferences. The state is functioning,” Ould Hamadi told reporters on the sidelines of the Francophone summit in Kinshasa,
“There is no particular problem which requires any particular arrangements,” he said, describing the situation in Mauritania as “calm.”
A security source had earlier said that the president, a former general who has been in power since leading an August 2008 military coup, had been directly targeted in Saturday’s incident.