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Mauritania Denies Report That Saddam’s Family Fled There

January 18, 1991

LONDON (AP) _ The BBC said today that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has sent his family and unspecified senior government officials to Mauritania, but a government official in the north African nation denied the report.

The British Broadcasting Corp. report, which cited unidentified Western diplomatic sources, said two Iraqi Airways planes landed in Mauritania on Wednesday, followed the next day by a pair of Iraqi military aircraft.

In Mauritania, however, Information Minister Mohamed Lemine Ahmed issued an official denial of the report. Ahmed also denied that Iraqi government officials had been given shelter in Mauritania, whose government has sided with Iraq during the Persian Gulf crisis and enjoys close relations with Baghdad.

The only Iraqi officials present in Mauritania, Ahmed said in a communique, are accredited members of Iraq’s Embassy.

Earlier today, a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Mauritania also denied the report, saying: ″We have no information that would tend to confirm that.″ He spoke on condition of anonymity.

U.S. and allied forces on Thursday began a fierce bombing campaign aimed at driving Iraq from Kuwait. The assault has taken a heavy toll on government and military targets in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, U.S. officials say.

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