NOUAKCHOTT, Oct 22 – A Mauritanian soldier said to have shot and wounded President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz by misadventure on October 13 has given his version of events on state television.
“I was wearing a civilian T-shirt and I was with an officer, also wearing civilian clothes, when it happened,” Lieutenant Elhaj Ould H’Moudy said on Sunday evening when he told how he injured the head of state “by mistake”.
H’Moudy belongs to a unit responsible for training new recruits to the air force, based in the Tweila region, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Nouakchott, where Aziz was injured.
The official version of events is that the shooting was an error and H’Moudy has not been accused of anything. Aziz was hit by a bullet in the arm and nobody else was injured.
“It was 8pm (2000 GMT). I was watching the horizon (…) when I saw vehicles approaching. I then informed the garrison so it could take steps and got into my civilian vehicle with my companion to drive out and meet (the cars),” H’moudy said.
“At 25 metres (yards) from them, I stopped and indicated that they should stop. The vehicle slowed down and I studied the people aboard, who were wearing turbans. I found them suspicious, indicated that they should get out under the threat of my weapon, but the vehicle drove past me and sped up.
“The vehicle slowed down and I studied the people aboard, who were wearing turbans. I found them suspicious, indicated that they should get out under the threat of my weapon, but the vehicle drove past me and sped up”
“Then I took up my position and opened fire on them,” he added, indicating that Aziz was in the vehicle without his knowledge.
The lieutenant said that he had already been questioned by his general staff, which undertook “a reconstruction of events.” After this reconstitution, “they understood my good faith and I wasn’t troubled.”
The Mauritanian head of state underwent a first operation in Nouakchott just after the incident, before being evacuated the following day, October 14, to France, where he has been hospitalised in the military hospital of Percy-Clamart near Paris.