October 24, 2012 / 1:42 PM / 5 years ago

Mauritania president discharged from Paris hospital

NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) - Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has been discharged from the Paris hospital where he was being treated for a gunshot wound, a presidency official said on Wednesday.

Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz takes part in the closing news conference after a summit of Mediterranean neighbours at Verdala Palace outside Valletta October 6, 2012. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Abdel Aziz, an ally of the West in its fight against al Qaeda in Africa, was flown to France on October 14 after his government said a military patrol had fired on his convoy accidentally.

“The president has indeed left Hôpital Percy and has gone to Mauritania’s embassy in Paris,” spokesman Rassoul Ould Khal told Reuters, adding Abdel Aziz was in good health.

He did not say when Abdel Aziz would return to Mauritania, a coup-prone West African state that is fighting the rising influence of al Qaeda’s north African wing.

A French Defense Ministry source confirmed that Abdel Aziz had been discharged from the hospital, adding that he was planning his eventual return to Nouakchott.

News of Abdel Aziz’s shooting prompted fears in Mauritania that he had been attacked by al Qaeda-linked gunmen, though the government has said the shooting was accidental.

A Mauritanian soldier said on national television over the weekend that he had he fired on Abdel Aziz’s unmarked convoy after it refused to stop on a desert road outside the capital.

Mauritania launched several attacks on Islamist bases across the border in Mali in 2010 and 2011, provoking threats of revenge from al Qaeda-linked fighters.

Those Islamist groups now occupy the northern two-thirds of Mali after hijacking a Tuareg rebellion earlier this year in the wake of a military coup in Mali’s capital Bamako.

Split between black and Arab Africa, Mauritania is bigger than Turkey but has only 3.5 million people.

Reporting by Laurent Prieur; Additional reporting by John Irish in Paris; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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