There is confusion in Mauritania as an apparent coup attempt seems to be making progress. Dissident soldiers say they have seized key government buildings in the capital Nouakchott and that a military council will now rule the country.
Earlier the authorities insisted they were in control. The events come as the West African state’s leader is outside the country.
President Taya is visiting Niger, after travelling to Saudi Arabia on Tuesdayfor the funeral of King Fahd.
The African Union has condemned what it has called a “seizure of power”, while the Mauritanian opposition in exile has welcomed the developments.
One of the world’s poorest nations, Mauritania is no stranger to rebellion.
Soldiers came close to toppling the president in 2003 during two days of street fighting – before loyalist forces managed to gain the upper hand.
Last year, the authorities said they foiled two further coup attempts.