Three Spanish aid workers were abducted by armed men on Sunday while delivering supplies to poor villages in the desert nation of Mauritania, the police official said. The two men and a woman was attacked while transporting supplies to villages along 240-miles (400 km) of roads linking the capital Nouakchott and Nouadhibou in the north, the official said. He asked that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
"The Spaniards were in their car traveling in a convoy of humanitarian aid had gone to distribute humanitarian aid to the poorest of the poor in Nouadhibou, when unknown gunmen opened fire on them before the hijackings," said the official, a policeman with high rank in the capital.
It was unclear whether there were other foreign aid workers traveling with the three, and if so, if it managed to escape.
The official said workers were employed by the organization in Barcelona Accio Spanish, making humanitarian work in several African countries including Mauritania.
Mauritania, once known as a predominantly moderate Muslim nation on the western coast of Africa, has been rocked by back-to-back attacks by al-Qaida linked to the group.
In 2007, gunmen killed four French tourists in Mauritania, who was king of picnic beside a road. In 2008 was the world famous Dakar Rally car race canceled after organizers received threats of a possible attack.