Niger’s government says it has thwarted an attempted coup.

Members of the presidential guard fought off a military unit that had tried to seize the presidential palace in the capital, Niamey, in the early hours of the morning.

The attackers – from a nearby airbase – fled when the guards responded with heavy shelling.

The government spokesman said several people had been arrested.

The attack took place two days before the swearing-in of new president, Mohamed Bazoum.

In the first democratic handover of power since Niger’s independence, he is due to succeed Mahamadou Issoufou, who is stepping down after serving two five-year terms.

Niger has experienced four military coups – the last was in 2010.