NOUAKCHOTT - Hundreds of protesters gathered in Mauritania on Wednesday to denounce violence against women and demand tighter security amid a spike in assaults and rape cases in the capital Nouakchott.

The protesters rallied outside the home ministry, chanting “no to rape” and “we want more security”.

“Our movement is not political, even if it is under the current government that the wave of violence against women, rape and murder has taken place,” said organiser Mariem Mint Ahmed Miske.

She complained that “no woman can now feel safe, in the street or even at home. We are afraid, we want more security.”

Nouakchott has been rocked by a recent sharp rise in assaults, robberies and sex attacks, including the rape and murder in March of a pregnant 20-year-old mother-of-one.

The killing sparked outrage in the capital, with hundreds of women taking to the streets a few days later and demanding more vigilance from the police, who stepped up patrols in response.

Three youths were arrested for rape and murder following the woman's death and could be executed if convicted. - Sapa-AFP