Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Conde survives assassination bid

Guinea's first democratically elected president Alpha Conde has narrowly survived an assassination attempt

Guinea's president has narrowly survived an assassination attempt after gunmen surrounded his home overnight and pounded his bedroom with rockets.

The attack throws into doubt the stability of the country's first democratically-elected government in a part of the world that has long been ruled by the gun.

President Alpha Conde was saved because he was sleeping in a different room when the shooting erupted outside his residence at around 3am local time on Wednesday.

Rocket-propelled grenades landed inside the compound and one of his bodyguards was killed, said Francois Louceny Fall, Mr Conde's chief of staff.

The bedroom was ripped apart, Mr Conde, 73, told French radio RFI. He later addressed the nation on state radio, saying his security detail had "heroically fought starting at 3.10am until reinforcements arrived".

He urged the public to remain calm and said the attack would not derail the promises he made to voters seven months ago when he became the first democratically-elected leader in Guinea's 52-year history.

"If your hand is in the hand of God, nothing can happen to you. Our enemies can try everything, but they will not stop the march of the Guinean people," Mr Conde said in his address.

"Guinea is one country. We are united, for we cannot grow if we are not united. Let us not accept to be divided."

Hours later, shooting broke out again near his home and residents said they saw the red-beret-wearing presidential guards take fighting positions. Mr Conde was inside meeting the French ambassador and the diplomat was forced to lie on the floor to avoid the bullets, the president said on RFI.

A bodyguard who was close to the last two military leaders and who goes by the nickname "De Gaulle" was arrested attempting to pierce the police cordon around the house, said Mr Fall.

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