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Tear gas used at banned protest

Security forces in Niger used tear gas to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters taking part in a banned demonstration in the capital Niamey.

The political altercation came after 10 people were killed in two days of violent protests against a French publication's cartoon depicting Islam's prophet.

Niger authorities banned the demonstration by the political opposition because of the tense situation following the violence in response to the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

President Mahamadou Issoufou said yesterday that five people were killed in Niamey when Christian churches and bars were set ablaze.

On Friday, at least five other people were killed in the town of Zinder when protests erupted after Muslim prayer services.

The violence came after the French magazine published a new cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The issue, published on Wednesday, was the first following the terrorist attack on its headquarters earlier this month that left 12 dead.

Physical depictions of the prophet are considered blasphemous, and protests have occurred in a number of predominantly Muslim countries this week.

Today's anti-government demonstration in Niger was organised prior to the Charlie Hebdo protests, though officials said yesterday it would not be allowed to go ahead. Opposition organisers cited general grievances with the government including the controversial purchase of a presidential plane last year.

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