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Niger: Presidential guards disperse demonstrators with warning shots

Supporters of Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum gather to show their support for him in Niamey on July 26, 2023.   -  
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The presidential guard behind an attempted coup d'état in Niger dispersed demonstrators supporting President Mohamed Bazoum in Niamey on Wednesday with warning shots.

The demonstrators were trying to approach the presidency, where Mohamed Bazoum is being held by the presidential guard when they were dispersed by these shots.

At least one demonstrator was wounded, but it is not yet known whether he was hit by a bullet or fell during the stampede that followed the shooting.

Mohamed Bazoum has been held since Wednesday morning by members of the presidential guard, following the failure of talks on points that remain unknown. 

Disgruntled members of President Mohamed Bazoum's elite guard on Wednesday sealed off his residence and offices in Niger's capital Niamey and after talks have refused to release him.

Nigeria's Tinubu, who as the new head of the regional bloc ECOWAS has pushed for a return to democracy in West African countries now run by juntas, said Talon was on his way to Niger after the "military misbehaviour" there.

Meanwhile, Benin's President Patrice Talon is travelling to Niger to mediate after the country's leader was held by his guards in an apparent attempted coup, Nigeria's President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said on Wednesday.

Niger has suffered from chronic political volatility since gaining independence from France in 1960.

It has seen four coups in its history, most recently a February 2010 putsch which toppled then-president Mamadou Tandja.

The country's first-ever democratic transition of power took place in 2021 when Mohamed Bazoum took the presidency after his predecessor voluntarily stepped down.

Along with Sahel neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that began in Mali in 2012 and spread across the region's highly porous borders.

The fighting against both Al-Qaeda and Islamic-State affiliated jihadists has come to within 100 kilometres of the capital.

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