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Gabon: Two suspects killed and seven captured in failed coup attempt

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By Euronews  with Reuters
Gabon: Two suspects killed and seven captured in failed coup attempt

Two suspects were killed and seven were captured after military officers in Gabon led a failed coup attempt early on Monday morning, said government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou.

The military officers seized the state radio station while declaring their dissatisfaction with President Ali Bongo, who is recovering from a stroke in Morocco.

Not long after the incident, a government spokesman said that four out of five of the soldiers involved had been arrested. The other reportedly fled.

Why did they attempt a coup?

A New Year's eve address by Bongo was termed a "distressing spectacle" by Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang, the leader of the self-declared Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon.

"In a few hours we will put in place a National Restoration Council after consulting all the vital forces of the nation to ensure the continuity of the state and guarantee the Gabonese a democratic transition," Obiang said into the microphone at the stormed radio station.

The radio message was broadcast at around 4:30 a.m. local time (0530 GMT). A source close to the government said there were gunshots around the national television station, but that the plotters appeared to be a small group of soldiers.

Fitness to rule

Bongo, 59, was hospitalised in October in Saudi Arabia after suffering a stroke. He has been in Morocco since November to continue treatment.

In his speech on New Year's, Bongo acknowledged health problems but said he was recovering. He slurred some of his words and did not move his right arm, but otherwise appeared in decent health.

The Bongo family has ruled the oil-producing country for nearly half a century. Bongo has been president since succeeding his father, Omar, who died in 2009. His re-election in 2016 was marred by claims of fraud and violent protest.