Heavy gunfire heard in Guinea capital Conakry: Witnesses

 15 hrs agoLike|4Musicians silently await their fate as Taliban’s ban loomsDo we need humans for that job? Automation booms after COVIDa group of people riding on the back of a truck: According to witnesses, soldiers have been deployed in the capital, Conakry [FILE - AFP]© Provided by Al Jazeera According to witnesses, soldiers have been deployed in the capital, Conakry [FILE – AFP]

Heavy gunfire was heard in the centre of Guinean capital Conakry near the presidential palace on Sunday though it was unclear who was responsible.

A senior government official said President Alpha Conde was unharmed but gave no further details.

A military source told Reuters news agency the only bridge connecting the mainland to the Kaloum neighbourhood, which houses most of the ministries and the presidential palace, had been sealed off and many soldiers were posted around the palace.

A witness said he saw a civilian with gunshot wounds.

Footage shared on social media showed heavy gunfire ringing out over the city, and vehicles full of soldiers approaching the central bank, close to the palace.

A Reuters reporter saw two convoys of armoured vehicles and pick-up trucks heading towards Conakry Autonomous Port, also near the palace. The convoy was accompanied by a white vehicle that appeared to be an ambulance.

Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, reporting from Dakar in neighbouring Senegal, said troops were deployed in downtown Conakry and ordered residents over loudspeakers to remain indoors.

“President Alpha Conde early this morning went out towards Hotel Kaloum where he was suspectedly ambushed by people who started shooting at him. We know now that he is inside that hotel. He is safe and well. But there continues to be a gun battle in that district,” Haque said.

“This comes a week after the national parliament voted an increase in budget for the presidency and parliamentarians, but a substantial decrease for those working in the security services like the police and the military.”

Disputed elections

Conde won a third presidential term in Guinea in a violently disputed election last October. He ran after pushing through a new constitution in March 2020 which allowed him to sidestep the country’s two-term limit, provoking mass protests.

Dozens of people were killed during demonstrations, often in clashes with security forces. Hundreds were also arrested.

Conde, 83, was then proclaimed president on November 7 last year — despite complaints of electoral fraud from his main challenger Cellou Dalein Diallo and other opposition figures.

A former opposition activist himself, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and won re-election in 2015 before doing so again last year. Critics accuse him of veering towards authoritarianism, however.

Guinea has witnessed sustained economic growth during Conde’s decade in power thanks to its bauxite, iron ore, gold and diamond wealth, but few of its citizens have seen the benefits.

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