Map of Niger Republic

Elite troops in Niger thwarted an attempted coup early Wednesday, just two days before the historic inauguration of Mohamed Bazoum as president of the nation.

This followed heavy gunfire overnight close to the presidential palace while a group of soldiers behind the assault have been arrested.

Bazoum is a former interior minister and close ally of President Mahamadou Issoufou, who is voluntarily stepping down after two five-year terms.

Bazoum’s victory in the second round of elections on February 2 was confirmed by the constitutional court this month and it will be the first transfer of power between two democratically elected presidents in Niger since the country became independent in 1960.

There has been increasing attacks by jihadist groups as well as political tensions in the country following Mr Bazoum’s victory in February.

His rival, Mahamane Ousmane, has rejected the result and his supporters were earlier banned from holding a protest on Wednesday in the capital, Niamey.