19 July 2011

Guinea: Conde's Residence Hit By Rocket Fire

Photo: Maseco Conde/IRIN
Armed soldiers crush protests in Guinea in February 2007.

The residence of Guinea's recently installed president Alpha Condé was hit by rocket fire overnight on Monday as a sustained heavy weapons' attack struck the capital Conakry overnight.

The president is reported to be safe and sound.

Witnesses told the French news agency that heavy gunfire had erupted around Condé's residence in the city's Kipe district at around 3:00 am, lasting for more than two hours.

There has been tension in the coup-wracked country over the last seven months after Condé took office following his victory over rival Cellou Dalein Diallo in the country's first democratic election since independence from France in 1958.

Condé needs to turn around a nation plagued by half a century of political and ethnic killings under dictatorships and military juntas that have manipulated strong ethnic divisions to strengthen their hold on power.

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 Conté, who had been in power 24 years.

In September 2009, security forces massacred over 150 people at a protest rally against the military junta's attempts to cling to power during which women were publicly raped. A few months later Camara was shot in the head by a close aide and overthrown.

There are about 30 ethnic groups in the country and divisions among them are seen as a major stumbling block to national reconciliation.

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