Two soldiers who were involved in Monday’s attempted coup in Gabon have been killed, the government says. The soldiers were killed when security forces entered the building they were in.
The soldiers had taken control of the national radio building. They took hostages and claimed that they seized power to restore democracy in the country. The presidency released a statement in which they confirmed that the situation is under control.
The statement explains that the situation is calm and that the gendarmes have taken control of the entire area surrounding the TV headquarters and radio. A spokesman for the government said that military officials and opposition leaders mentioned in the statement from the rebels will be investigated.
The leader of the coup, Lt Kelly Ondo Obiang, was on the run for a short time. Radio France Internationale reported that he was found hiding under a bed. Security forces arrested three others after storming the national radio building.
The soldiers began their coup attempt at around 4:30 local time. They took control of the national radio building located in the capital Libreville. They took over the station to read a short statement. AFP reports that the soldiers entered the building after getting past gendarmes nearby.
Security forces responded to the situation by storming the building and killing two of the soldiers. Reports say security forces also freed hostages. Authorities initially said that five soldiers entered the building and that four had been arrested. Other reports have put the number of soldiers that entered the building at six and seven. Reuters recently reported that a fifth suspect is on the run.
After taking over, the soldiers made a short statement to the country. In a video that has surfaced on social media, three soldiers can be seen at the station. All three are wearing military uniforms and two of them are holding assault rifles.
The soldiers asked other soldiers to take control of several key areas of the country. Gabon’s president Ali Bongo narrowly won a re-election two years ago. The election saw violence as well as accusations of fraud. Mr. Bongo has been out of the country for two months.
A spokesman for the main opposition party in Gabon has denied involvement in the coup attempt. He said that he wasn’t aware of any link between the party’s leader and the soldiers who entered the station.
Mr. Bongo has been out of the country for two months. Reports say the president left the country after suffering a stroke in October. The stroke reportedly happened when he was in Saudi Arabia. He is now in Morroco for his treatment.
He recently released a message in which he confirmed that he was feeling okay. Reports say some of the soldiers were not convinced by the message. Some observers pointed out that the president was not okay and that he was having a difficult time saying some words and moving his right arm. Ali Bongo, who has been the president since 2009, took office after the death of his father. Omar Bongo was in power from 1967 to 2009.