|Conde came to power last December in what was the first free election in Guinea since independence [AFP]|
An attack on the residence of Guinean President Alpha Conde has left at least one person dead, but the president managed to escape without injury, officials said.
Quoting a presidential source and eyewitnesses, the Reuters news agency said heavily armed assailants attacked Conde’s residence at around 1:30am local time on Tuesday.
“The president was there, but he is safe and sound,” said the presidency source, adding there had been substantial damage to the residence in a suburb of Conakry, the capital, from gunfire and rocket launchers.
In a televised address to the nation hours later, Conde said: “My house was attacked last night, but I congratulate the presidential guard who fought heroically from 3.10am until 5am (local and GMT) before backup arrived.”
Conde tried to reassure the population that he was still in control and that attempts to undermine his plans for reform would fail.
“Our enemies can try everything, but they cannot prevent the Guinean people’s march towards democracy,” he said.
“Democracy has begun and it will continue. I promised you change and, God willing, change will happen.”
Taxi drivers said on Tuesday the red-beret presidential guard had blocked the bridge that is the only way to enter the thin peninsula that leads into downtown Conakry.
Residents in the Kaporo Rail neighbourhood said the shooting erupted as they were sleeping and continued until dawn.
The heaviest fighting appeared to be coming from near the walled compound where Conde lives – the same three-story home that served as his base when he was the head of the country’s opposition.
The attack left the presidential building riddled with bullet holes and the main gate was blown out with a rocket launcher, Reuters reported.
Neither the presidential source nor a second source close to the presidency said they had any information on who the attackers were, according Reuters.
Conde came to power in the world’s largest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite last December in what was the first free election in the West African country since independence from France half a century before.
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.