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Coup d’Etat Averted in Guinea
July 20, 2011, 11:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

BBC News

Africa

 19 July 2011 Last updated at 18:59 GMT

Attack on home of Guinea President Conde repelled

Forces loyal to Guinean President Alpha Conde have repelled an attack by unknown assailants on his private residence in the capital, Conakry.

Gunfire erupted in the early hours of Tuesday and a shoot-out followed in which a member of Mr Conde’s security detail was killed, reports say.

Mr Conde called for calm in a state TV broadcast following the attack.

He is the first democratically elected leader in Guinea, which has a history of coups and ethnic conflict.

He took power in 2010 after a period of military rule.

The attack on the presidency shows the scale of the challenges facing the new civilian government, correspondents say.

The BBC’s Alhassan Sillah in Conakry says former army chief Nouhou Thiam has been arrested along with several other people.

The shooting has subsided, but the city remains tense and many people are staying at home, our reporter says.

Security forces have set up road blocks and are searching vehicles, he says.

Reuters news agency reported that a second attack took place some hours later, but presidential officials have told the BBC this is not true.

‘Heroic’ fightThe attack on Mr Conde’s home happened in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Officials said the building was hit by gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades.

At least one guard was killed, several more wounded and portions of the house destroyed, presidential official Francois Fall told AP news agency.

He said the president was safe and was being protected in an undisclosed location. An investigation had been launched but it was too early to say who was behind the attack, Mr Fall said.

“I urge you to remain calm and vigilant for the sake of national unity,” Mr Conde said in a state TV address on Tuesday morning.

“I don’t want any popular reaction. Allow the army and security forces to do their job.

“My house was attacked last night but I congratulate the presidential guard who fought heroically from 0310 until 0500 [GMT] before back-up arrived,” said Mr Conde.

“Our enemies can try everything, but they cannot prevent the Guinean people’s march towards democracy. Democracy has begun and it will continue, I promised you change and, God willing, change will happen.”

Mr Conde later told French radio station RFI that he had avoided injury because he had not been sleeping in his bedroom when it was hit.

Opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, who is currently in Dakar, told AFP news agency the attack was “regrettable” and called for an investigation.

“I hope it doesn’t affect the nation’s unity, democratic process and already fragile social fabric,” he said.

In December, Mr Conde, a veteran opposition leader, was declared the winner of Guinea’s first democratic election since independence in 1958.

But the contest was marred by clashes, which took on an ethnic dimension, between supporters of Mr Conde, an ethnic Malinke, and Mr Diallo, a Peul, with the pair seen as representatives of two of Guinea’s most populous ethnic groups.

Mr Conde went on to assume power from the military junta that had seized power in December 2008 on the death of the previous president, Lansana Conte, who had ruled for 24 years.

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