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Niger Mutiny - 2002-08-05

Heavy gunfire broke out overnight (Sunday-Monday) in Niamey, the capital of Niger, where soldiers have been staging a mutiny for the past several days. The country's Prime Minister has assured the population that the armed forces remain under the control of President Mamadou Tandja.

Calm returned to Niger's capital by sunrise, following what residents say was sporadic, but heavy, gunfire that began in the predawn hours.

Government officials say forces loyal to President Mamadou Tandja repelled an attack by mutinying soldiers, who tried to storm several armories in the capital.

The attacks in Niamey came as loyalists continue to pursue mutineers who have been staging a revolt in the east of the country. Last week, mutinying soldiers took over the southeastern town of Diffa. Hundreds of troops dispatched to the region chased the rebelling soldiers out of the town and into the desert on Saturday.

The mutineers are demanding better wages, the resignation of Niger's army chief, and direct negotiations with the Prime Minister.

Following the attacks in Niamey, the Prime Minister went on national radio and reassured the population that the government remained in control.