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Mauritania Coup Failed, President Says

June 10, 2003|From Associated Press

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania — Loyal government forces crushed a coup attempt by disgruntled troops after two days of street battles in the capital, President Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya said Monday.

Taya, unseen in public since the fighting began early Sunday, appeared before the nation in a brief speech broadcast from his presidential palace and thanked soldiers who supported him. The president gave no casualty figures.

Gunshots and explosions, which had rocked Nouakchott since early Sunday, subsided Monday, and there were no reports of fighting elsewhere. Government soldiers manned roadblocks in the city center, and police quelled looting.

The uprising followed a government crackdown on Islamic activists. Mauritania's government has a reputation for muzzling dissent by censoring the media or arresting opposition leaders.

The coup attempt was the most serious threat to Taya's government since he came to power in a military takeover in 1984. He was confirmed as president in 1992 and 1997 elections that were widely viewed as flawed.

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