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Assassination attempt was a thwarted coup, says junta

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-07

Guinea's ruling junta described the attack against junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara (pictured) as an attempted coup by his aide Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite, and offered a large reward for his capture. Camara is undergoing medical treatment in Morocco.

AFP - Guinea's junta Sunday called the shooting of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara this week a failed coup attempt, as the junta leader was reportedly recovering well from surgery in Morocco.

The state of Camara's health caused "no worries" after undergoing an operation in Rabat Saturday, the Moroccan army said Sunday in a statement, for wounds suffered when a bullet grazed his head.

Camara was wounded Thursday when his aide de camp, Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite, allegedly shot him in what a junta spokesman said Sunday was an attempted coup to seize power in the west African country.

Idrissa Cherif described the scene as a "trap" in which Camara answered Diakite's call to come to the Koundara military camp, although the spokesman was not himself a witness.

He claimed that Diakite and his men opened fire, killing all those who were with Camara.

"One of the body guards who threw himself on top of the president to protect him, they killed him.... The driver was also killed," said Cherif.

According to the spokesman, Camara "pretended to be dead," and Diakite said on his walkie-talkie: "We killed the president, power is in my hands, I am the new strongman of this country."

Meanwhile, Diakite said in a telephone call with AFP Saturday that he was still at large and "in a safe place" inside Guinea with "a fair number of men."

Diakite, known as Toumba, refused to discuss the attack on Camara, saying he was waiting "to see how things develop."

A junta officer appeared on state television late Saturday urging the population "to help actively in the search for Diakite and his henchmen," promising a "large reward" to anyone helping capture him.

Television networks broadcast Diakite's photograph, while the junta member announced the arrest of at least four officers, including three on the border with Sierra Leone.

The leader of the junta which took power in a bloodless coup a year ago after the death of long-time ruler Lansana Conte had been airlifted to Morocco on Friday for medical treatment.

Again on Sunday the junta spokesman sought to dampen questions about Camara's condition. At his Conakry office Cherif turned up the speaker on his telephone so journalists could hear the comments of Guinea's ambassador to Morocco about Camara.

"He is doing very well, no problems, he no longer has a bandage," the Guinean ambassador said in the phone call from Rabat. But no date was given for Camara's return to Guinea.

Meanwhile, Guinea's defence minister, Sekouba Konate, number three in the junta, has taken charge as interim leader and on Sunday held a meeting with government officials, Cherif said.

Guinea's opposition coalition of political parties, unions and civil societies issued a statement repeating its call for the junta to relinquish power as "a pressing necessity".

A return to civilian rule had been anticipated with a presidential election in late January. But those plans became mired in conflict over Camara's intention to run as a candidate.

In September an opposition rally against Camara's candidacy resulted in a massacre when junta soldiers stormed the stadium where thousands of protesters had gathered.

The government is probing the September disaster and a UN panel arrived in late November to investigate the matter. The junta said 56 people died and 934 were injured, but Guinean rights groups and Human Rights Watch estimated at least 157 were killed, while the United Nations put the death toll at 150.

Date created : 2009-12-06


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