Mauritania’s first mass sit-in arranged by the coordinated opposition parties, activist and community groups following the successful mass march and rally on Wednesday was violently dispersed by combined security forces at 3am on 3 May 2012. After cutting off electricity and barricading the area around the sit-in with road blocks and a convoy of about 30 vehicles, a barrage of tear gas, sound grenades and water cannon rained down on the camp.
Police then attacked and beat protesters as they tried to escape. Scores of people were injured and dozens arrested in clashes that continued for over two hours. The injured included the leader of one of the opposition parties; the director of another opposition leader, Ould Daddah’s office; independent radio journalists; a pregnant woman who was overcome by tear gas and developed severe breathing diffculties; and a youth with internal bleeding. The police confiscated bedding, electronics, and provisions from the camp site, and were later seen dividing up the food and drink between themselves. Whatever police couldn’t remove easily – such as tables, chairs and toilet facilities – they destroyed.
There are reports that president Aziz and a security detail of the presidential guard were spotted in the vicinity while the attacks were in progress, indicating that he was personally supervising the raid. The Council of Ministers met at the presidential palace later this morning, while police launched a fresh attack on the university, arresting several students. After the Council meeting, there was no mention in the official statement regarding the massive protest or the attack.
Update: Seems AlJazeera’s crew were on hand and filmed the attack