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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Mauritania police chief attacked
President Maaouiya Ould Taya
Ould Taya himself came to power in a coup
Mauritania's security chief has denied that an attack on his home was linked to last week's alleged coup plot.

Gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons at the house of Deddahi Ould Abdallahi on Sunday morning but no-one was hurt.

But a BBC correspondent says most residents of the capital, Nouakchott, feel there must be a link with the discovery of an arms cache last week.

It was the third alleged coup plot in the past 15 months.

"It is extremely unlikely that petty thieves would target the director of national security's house, which has 24-hour security," says the BBC's Pascale Harter in Nouakchott.

"It was a very professional job," she says. The number-plates of the attackers' car had been removed.

Tuaregs targeted

Mauritania has accused Libya and Burkina Faso of being behind the alleged coup plot.

Both countries have denied any links.

A large quantity of arms and communications equipment was seized, and the alleged ring-leader, former army officer Saleh Ould Hanena, was arrested on Wednesday.

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

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

Meanwhile, a leading member of the Tuareg community in Mauritania has told BBC News Online that since the last alleged coup plot in August, at least 50 Tuaregs have been arrested.

Habaye Ag Mohamed says he was detained for four days without explanation before being released on Saturday.

He says that the media have linked the Tuaregs to the alleged coup plots.

Thousands of Malian Tuaregs fled to Mauritania after fighting in the 1990s.

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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