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In Niger, lawyers call for deposed president’s release after junta claims it thwarted house arrest escape

Lawyers for Niger’s ousted president called for his immediate release Friday, a day after the ruling military junta said it had thwarted an overnight attempt by the president to escape house arrest with his family nearly three months after he was detained in the wake of a coup.

Mohamed Bazoum, his wife and son are being held without access to lawyers or the outside world, said an international group of lawyers representing Bazoum said in a statement. They denied the junta’s accusations that he tried to flee.

The president and his family have been under house arrest since the end of July when mutinous soldiers toppled him and has refused to resign. The junta had cut off his electricity and water.

In the wake of the July coup, however, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France was ending its military presence and would pull its ambassador out of the country. French troops already have been ousted by military governments in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, which are both seeing a surge in attacks.

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