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Mauritania arrests top Libyan sought by ICC

Mauritania said Saturday it arrested former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi, who was one of the most prominent figures from the ousted regime of Muammar Qaddafi and is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Al-Senoussi helped direct efforts to quash the rebellion against Qaddafi's rule last year, and the ICC has indicted him along with Qaddafi's son Seif al-Islam, on charges of crimes against humanity.

Mauritania's state information agency said in a statement that al-Senoussi was arrested at the airport in the capital Nouakchott upon arrival from the Moroccan city of Casablanca. It said he was carrying a fake Malian passport.

Libyan Foreign Ministry spokesman Saad al-Shilmani said the arrest was not confirmed.

As Qaddafi's regime crumbled in the second half of 2011, many of the dictator's inner circle reportedly fled from advancing rebels toward the Sahara, where the regime had long cultivated ties with desert groups both in Libya and in neighboring countries.

Qaddafi's son Seif al-Islam was arrested in November by fighters in Libya's remote southern desert. He has been held largely without access to the outside world ever since and Libyan authorities say they want to put him on trial at home, despite an arrest warrant issued by the ICC.

Some Libyan officials reported at the time that al-Senoussi had also been captured and was being held in the southern city of Sabha. But some later cast doubt on that assertion, and his whereabouts have not been known -- a reflection of the confusion in post-Qaddafi Libya, where "revolutionary militias" hold local control in many towns and cities with little accountability to the Tripoli government.

Al-Senoussi, Qaddafi's brother-in-law, was also one of six Libyans convicted in absentia and sentenced to life in prison in France for the 1989 bombing of a French passenger over Niger that killed all 170 people on board. The French government has previously asked that he be handed over to France.