Eric Gaillard / AP
CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) – Heavy gunfire erupted early Sunday near the presidential palace in Guinea’s capital, continuing for hours, witnesses said, raising security concerns in a West African nation with a long history of military coups and coup attempts.
The Defense Department later said the presidential guard and other security forces had “contained the threat and dismissed the group of assailants.”
“Security and sweeping operations continue to restore order and peace,” the statement said.
However, the statement could not be independently confirmed and there were no immediate comments from President Alpha Conde. State television carried music and other programming, but did not mention the shots, which echoed through the Kaloum neighborhood of Conakry all morning.
Conde has come under increasing criticism since he sought a third term last year, saying the two-term limit did not apply to him because of a constitutional referendum he had tabled.
He was eventually re-elected, but the move led to violent street demonstrations in which the opposition said dozens had been killed. Conde, who is 83, can now remain in power until 2030 if he wins again in 2025.
He first came to power in 2010 at the country’s first democratic elections since independence from France in 1958. Many saw his presidency as a fresh start for the country, which has been embroiled in decades of corrupt, authoritarian rule.
Opponents say, however, that he has failed to improve the lives of Guineans, most of whom live in poverty despite the country’s vast mineral wealth.
In 2011, he narrowly survived an assassination attempt after gunmen surrounded his home overnight and beat his bedroom with rockets. Rocket-propelled grenades landed inside the compound, and one of his bodyguards was killed.
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