THE government of Chad, a landlocked country in sub-Saharan Africa, said it had foiled a coup attempt by opposition leader Abbas Kotti, who was shot dead in the capital.
A government statement on state radio said opponents of President Idriss Deby had planned to seize the presidency, the international airport, radio and television studios, and the national headquarters of the paramilitary land police on Saturday night.
Opposition militants said the coup story was concocted as a cover for the assassination of Kotti, who the government said was killed while resisting arrest in N'Djamena.
Activists in Kotti's Committee for the National Recovery of Chad (CRNT) asserted that he was executed because he was a political threat to President Deby. Another rebel told Reuters in neighboring Cameroon that Kotti was unarmed when police came for him.
Kotti had returned from exile in Libya in August and last week signed an accord with the government that legalized his CRNT as a political party and brought his forces into the national Army.
Government statements said Kotti's companions had been arrested and would get a proper trial, but they did not say how many were in custody.
The country was reported quiet Saturday evening, but Deby's elite Republican Guard still patrolled the capital in armored vehicles.