Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh has returned home from Chad overnight after a failed coup by disaffected soldiers while he was abroad, a military source has said.

Jammeh, who had been on a private visit to Dubai, went directly to the presidential palace where he was shown the bodies of the attackers killed during the attempted coup, the source told AFP on Wednesday. 

Forces loyal to Jammeh, who has ruled The Gambia for 20 years, killed three suspects including the alleged ringleader -- an army deserter, according to a military officer.

The source in Bissau said there were fears that Jammeh, who himself seized power in a coup in 1994, may launch a purge. 

The coup bid "has exposed some flaws in the military system even though the attackers were repelled. Some officers are certain to be singled out." 

 

He landed in N'Djamena, the capital of Chad, on Tuesday in a plane bearing the presidential emblem, then took off at 10:05pm local time (2105 GMT) after a refueling stop. 

Jammeh, 49, took power himself in a coup 20 years ago and since then has stifled dissent in his tiny West African nation.

He has come under increasing criticism from abroad over issues ranging from human rights to his claims that he can cure AIDS.


On Tuesday, state radio played traditional music and an announcer read a government statement playing down the incident.

"Contrary to rumours being circulated, peace and calm continue to prevail in The Gambia," it said. "(The) government would like to urge the public and all businesses to continue with their normal activities."

Yahya has survived two previous attempted coups, once in 2006 and later in 2009.

Source: Agencies