General Sekouba Konate, Guinea's vice-president and defence minister, became the country's de facto leader after returning from Lebanon early on Saturday.

Tense situation

The news came amid soaring tensions in Conakry, Guinea's capital, where pickup trucks full of heavily armed soldiers searched for suspects in the assassination attempt. Residents mostly stayed indoors.


 Background: Tensions in Guinea
 Camara: A man of the people?
The attack on Thursday was allegedly carried out by Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite, an aide to Camara, who went into hiding soon afterwards.

It appeared to have stemmed from weeks of mounting tensions between Carama and Diakite over the September 28 crackdown on anti-government protesters in which, according to witnesses, more than 150 people were killed.

One diplomatic source suggested Camara wanted to implicate Diakite, who commanded the troops that carried out the crackdown "and so remove any blame from himself".

Late on Saturday, a Guinean official appeared on state television, urging Guineans to help search for Diakite, also known as Toumba, and those working with him, promising a "large reward" to anyone aiding his capture.

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

Political troubles

Camara took power after a bloodless coup in December 2008, following the death of Lansana Conte, the former president.

The attempt on Camara's life has prompted fears of a power vacuum in the West African nation.

Tara O'Connor, an analyst with Africa Risk Consulting, said: "If you look at Guinea's history, it is only the army that has proven able to take the political process forward."

"We only hope they will be more malleable to affecting a transition to civilian rule than the military leaders of the past," she said.

A United Nations source said that one of Camara's bodyguards and a chauffeur were killed in the attack while trying to protect the president.