The federal army Friday ordered its troops to arrest Croatia's defense minister for allegedly plotting an armed insurrection, a military statement said.

Croatian authorities earlier said the army charges against the minister, Martin Spegelj, were fabricated and any attempt to forcibly arrest him could be resisted by arms.The statement, carried by the state news agency Tanjug, said Spegelj had masterminded a plan of an armed rebellion against Yugoslavia by "physical liquidation of army officers and their families."

Yugoslavia came close to civil war last month when pro-independence Croatia and the communist-dominated People's Army appeared set to clash over a federal order to disarm Croatia's reserve police force.