Ex-army chief held after Guinea’s Conde escapes attack

CONAKRY (Reuters) – Guinean President Alpha Conde escaped two attacks on his residence yesterday that killed at least three people and left his home riddled with bullets, in assaults which authorities linked to former senior officers in the army.

The attacks renewed international concerns about the stability of the impoverished West African country which is seeking to shake off its coup-ridden past and make the most of its rich iron and bauxite resources.

A presidential source branded the assaults as an attempt to assassinate Conde. A senior police source said that a former army chief sacked by Conde days after he came to power last December had been arrested and taken into custody.

“Our enemies will not be able to stop Guinea’s progress,” Conde, whose December 2010 appointment ended two years of chaotic junta rule marred by brutal repression of its critics, told state television.

“I appeal to you to stay calm … Let the army and the security services do their work,” said the 73-year-old Conde, who gave no sign of having been harmed, according to a Reuters reporter present at the recording of his message. Witnesses said the first attack took place at Conde’s personal residence in the Kipe suburb and lasted for nearly two hours before it was repelled by Conde’s personal guard.

“The kitchen is covered in blood and part of the building is riddled with bullet holes,” said one witness who declined to be identified, saying the gate had been blown out with a rocket-launcher.

It later emerged that there had been a second attack around 11 am (1100 GMT) which a presidential source said had been led by a former chief of the personal guard of Sekouba Konate, the soldier who oversaw the transition to civilian rule.

“For the time being we have counted three people killed, including one member of the president’s personal guard,” said a presidential source.

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