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Saturday, 3 January, 1998, 00:04 GMT
Niger Police arrest three opposition leaders

Police in the west African state of Niger have arrested three prominent opposition politicians in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate the President, Ibrahim Bare Mainassara.

Those arrested include a former civilian prime minister, Hama Amadou, who leads the National Movement for Social Development (MNSD) and a former foreign minister, Mohammed Bazoum.

Another opposition party leader, Issoufou Assoumane, has also been arrested after he said in an international radio interview that the alleged plot was a ploy to implicate opposition figures.

Niger state television had earlier broadcast what were said to be confessions by four alleged assassins who accused the former prime minister Amadou of masterminding the plot.

He has denied any involvement, saying he was the secretary general of a political party, not a warlord.

President Mainassara seized power two years ago in a military coup -- ending Niger's brief period of civilian rule.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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