The residence of Guinea’s recently installed president was hit by rocket fire as sustained heavy weapons’ fire rocked the capital Conakry overnight, officials told AFP on Tuesday.
An official in the president’s office told AFP that President Alpha Conde was unhurt. “He is safe and sound,” said the official, Francois Fall.
Witnesses earlier told AFP that heavy gunfire had erupted around Conde’s residence in the city’s Kipe district at around 3:00 am, lasting for more than two hours.
“Alpha Conde’s house was hit by a rocket,” state radio RTG said.
Police had closed access to the administrative Kaloum area in Conakry’s centre early Tuesday.
The tension in the coup-wracked country comes seven months after Conde took office following his victory over rival Cellou Dalein Diallo in the country’s first democratic election since independence from France in 1958.
He is tasked with turning around a nation plagued by half a century of political and ethnic killings under dictatorships and military juntas that have manipulated strong ethnic divisions to strengthen their hold on power.
Guinea has a long history of coups and attempted coups, the last coming in December 2008 when a young army officer, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, seized power after the death of Lansana Conte, who had been in power 24 years.
In September 2009, security forces massacred over 150 people at a protest rally against the military junta’s attempts to cling to power during which women were publicly raped.
A few months later Camara was shot in the head by a close aide and overthrown.
A transition government led by General Sekouba Konate led the country to its first democratic vote in November last year, which won widespread international praise despite post-election violence that left at least seven people dead and hundreds injured as security forces cracked down on protests.
There are about 30 ethnic groups in the country — the main ones being the Malinkes, the Peuls, the Soussous and the Guerzes — and divisions among them are seen as a major stumbling block to national reconciliation.
The country remains poor despite its mineral wealth as the world’s leading exporter of bauxite, the main source of aluminium.