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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 September, 2004, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Libya denies Mauritania coup link
President Maaouiya Ould Taya
Ould Taya himself came to power in a coup
Libya and Burkina Faso have both denied accusations that they were involved in an alleged plot to stage a coup in Mauritania this week.

A foreign ministry official told the BBC that Libya denied these claims - as it has two similar accusations in the past 15 months.

Burkina Faso's parliamentary speaker said Mauritania was looking for scapegoats for its internal problems.

A Mauritanian spokesman said markings on the seized weapons and equipment clearly showed they were Libyan.

Hamoud Ould Abdi said the names of Libyan soldiers and their unit numbers were visible, although there had been an attempt to scratch them out.

"There is no doubt that those who want to militarily destabilize the Mauritanian democratic process will not be given any support... in Burkina Faso," said parliamentary speaker Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

A large quantity of arms have been seized, and former army officer Saleh Ould Hanena was arrested on Wednesday.

He is alleged to be the ring leader of the two most recent attempts to topple President Maaouiya Sid'Ahmed Ould Taya - the last being in August.

'Criminal acts'

A fruit lorry and safe house filled with illegal Kalashnikovs, grenades and rocket launchers were shown to journalists on Tuesday night.

Attacks were planned on the presidential palace, the army barracks, state-run media buildings, the airport and other key locations, the minister said.

According to the BBC's Sidi al-Mokhtar Cheiger in Nouakchott, Mr Ould Hanena is reported by have been living in Burkina Faso, from where he is accused of masterminding opposition activities.

But apart from a few extra soldiers posted outside important government buildings, there is little sign of any tension in the capital, our correspondent says.

People are going about their normal business, and are not even interested in the news, he says.

President Taya took power in a bloodless coup in December 1984 and has been re-elected three times since.

Army officers held in Mauritania
09 Aug 04  |  Africa
Mauritania 'foils' coup attempt
09 Jun 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Mauritania
20 Jul 04  |  Country profiles


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