The military council which overthrew the president of Mauritania last week has begun releasing political prisoners held under the ousted government.
Twenty-one men accused of Islamic extremism by the fallen regime of Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya were released to cheering crowds on Sunday…
The decision by the military council to release the Islamists, just days after seizing power in a bloodless coup, is seen as confirmation that they were in fact political prisoners.
Members of the Islamic movement say their leaders were imprisoned as part of an attempt by the ousted president, Mr Taya, to crush all opposition.
Under Mr Taya, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania became one of only three members of the Arab League to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.
The move was unpopular with the public, as was the presence of American special forces in the vast desert country.