Heavy gunfire erupted early Sunday outside the presidential palace in Guinea’s capital Conakry
This has heightened security concerns in a country that has a lengthy history of military takeovers and coup attempts.
According to a military source, the only bridge connecting the mainland to the Kaloum neighborhood, which houses most of the ministries and the presidential palace, has been sealed off, and several soldiers, some highly armed, have been stationed around the palace.
According to witnesses in Conakry’s Kaloum district, it was unclear whether President Alpha Conde was at home when the shooting began.
Conde has faced rising criticism since attempting to run for a third term in government last year, claiming that the constitution’s time restrictions did not apply in his case. He was eventually re-elected, but the act sparked violent street protests, with the opposition claiming scores were slain.
Guinea has had consistent economic growth throughout Conde’s decade in power, owing to its resources in bauxite, iron ore, gold, and diamonds, but few of its population have reaped the rewards.
The 83-year old won a third term in power in an election marred by violent protests in which dozens of people were killed.
Many saw his election as a new beginning for the mineral-rich country, which had been plagued by decades of corrupt, autocratic leadership.
But opponents claim he has failed to improve the lives of Guineans, the majority of whom are impoverished despite the country’s immense mineral wealth.
In 2011, mutinous soldiers fired on the palace, narrowly avoiding assassination.