October 14, 2012 - 17:23 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Troops shot Mauritania's president Saturday, October 13 in what the government calls a case of "friendly fire" - though others believe it may have been something more sinister, CNN said.
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz's convoy mistakenly came under fire as it was heading back toward the capital of Nouakchott, the official AMI news agency reported. The gunshots came from a military unit stationed alongside the road in the west African country.
The president was "lightly injured," and government spokesman Hamdi Ould Mahjoub described the shooting as "friendly fire," state news reported. Aziz was being treated at Nouakchott's military hospital and doing well.
But witnesses said they believe the incident was an assassination attempt because unknown armed men shot their guns at the president and ran away, according to the independent Mauritania News agency. The witnesses said the armed men "directly" targeted the president as he was returning from his farm in the Inchiri province, near the capital, Mauritania News reported.
Mauritania has a history of political instability, and faces threats from al Qaeda militants.
A former general, Aziz came to power in a bloodless 2008 military coup -- one of many such coups the country of about 3.4 million people has had since it gained independence from France in 1960. He ousted Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, who had been the nation's first democratically elected leader, according to the U.S. State Department.
Aziz was elected president in 2009. Still, even with that result, the CIA describes the country's leadership as a "military junta."