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Gabon has foiled an attempted military coup on Monday, killing two suspected plotters and capturing seven others just hours after they took over state radio in a bid to end 50 years of rule by President Ali Bongo‘s family.
Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, government spokesman, announced the deaths and arrests after soldiers briefly seized the radio station and broadcast a message saying Bongo was no longer fit for office after suffering a stroke in Saudi Arabia in October.
The soldiers burst into state radio offices at dawn and urged the public to “rise up”.
But security forces stormed the building, capturing the rebel chief, killing two of his team and freeing journalists and technicians who had been held hostage and forced to help the mutineers make their broadcast, the presidency said.
“The situation is under control,” it said in a statement.
Bongo has been out of the country since October.
In the message broadcast on state radio, a soldier who identified himself as Liuetenant Obiang Ondo Kelly, commander of the Republican Guard, said the military had seized control of the government of the West African country.
Flanked by two other soldiers holding weapons, the soldier said they were taking over to “restore democracy”.
He said Bongo’s New Year’s Eve address from Morocco “reinforced doubts about the president’s ability to continue to carry out of the responsibilities of his office”.
In one of his first television appearances since he suffered the stroke in Saudi Arabia, Bongo, 59, slurred his speech and he appeared unable to move his right arm.
It is unclear if he is able to walk. He has been in Morocco since November to continue treatment.
‘Panic and fear’
A curfew has been imposed over Libreville, and the internet has been cut.
The city on the Atlantic Ocean coast is being patrolled by military tanks and armed vehicles.