A Mauritanian prisoner sentenced to death for terrorism escaped from prison on Saturday.
Cheikh Ould Saleck, has been on death row since 2011 over a plot to assassinate President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.
He is linked to three vehicles that contained explosives heading for Mauritania’s coastal capital, Nouakchott.
His absence from group prayers in the evening alerted his fellow Islamist inmates, who went to get him and found his cell locked
One of the vehicles was said to have been targeting Abdel Aziz, who had ordered military strikes in Mali against jihadist bases in 2010 and 2011.
“His absence from group prayers in the evening alerted his fellow Islamist inmates, who went to get him and found his cell locked,” a source indicated.
A guard broke into the cell and found a flag of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s North African franchise, the source added.
The Nouakchott prison houses more than 30 religious fighters, several of them on death row.
Islamist groups have claimed various acts of violence in the region and have stepped up attacks including one on a luxury hotel in November that killed about 20 people.
Abdel Aziz assumed office in 2009 after seizing power in a coup that ended the tenure of the country’s first democratically elected president.