x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Guinea's president wounded in renegade attack

A renegade faction of the presidential guard opens fire on the country's president, slightly wounding the African nation's leader.

CONAKRY, GUINEA // A renegade faction of Guinea's presidential guard opened fire on the country's president, slightly wounding the African nation's leader. The attack, which took place yesterday, came three months after a military-led massacre of protesters which is rumoured to have led to deep divisions within the army. President Moussa "Dadis" Camara was shot at yesterday by his military aide, who heads the presidential guard, the communications minister Idrissa Cherif said.

A statement read on state TV said the 45-year-old president had been slightly wounded but that his life was not in danger. "The president of the republic is still the president of the republic and he is in good health," Mr Cherif said as military helicopters and sporadic shooting could be heard in downtown Conakry. Mr Cherif said Mr Camara had left the country's main military barracks from where he has been running the country since seizing power in a military-led coup 11 months ago.

He headed downtown to a military camp housing hundreds of men under the control of Abubakar "Toumba" Diakite, the president's aide-de-camp. The shooting occurred inside the camp. The incident underscores the deep rifts inside the military clique that grabbed control of the nation of 10 million on Africa's western coast just 11 months ago. Mr Camara had initially promised to quickly organise elections, but then reversed course and began hinting that he planned to run for office, prompting a massive protest in September.

Toumba is accused of having led the presidential guard that opened fire on the peaceful demonstrators that had gathered inside the capital's national stadium. At least 157 people were killed and dozens of women were raped by the red beret-wearing presidential guard. The massacre led the European Union and the African Union to impose sanctions on Guinea, including on top members of the junta, who are now the subject of a travel ban.

Sources inside the military say that it deeply aggravated divisions that were already present and has led to the clique fracturing further. Members of the junta, including Toumba, are believed to lead private armies that are faithful only to them. A UN mission was in Conakry this week investigating the massacre and interviewed top military commanders in order to try to understand how the order to kill protesters was given.

Toumba, as well as Mr Camara and several others, may face charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. The government has denied all wrongdoing and blamed opposition leaders for going ahead with the banned protest. * AP