Heavy pictures have been reported close to the Presidential Palace in Guinea: NPR

Witnesses report that heavy shots broke out for hours near the Presidential Palace in Guinea’s capital. It was not immediately known whether President Alpha Conde, seen above in August 2019, was home at the time of the shooting. Eric Gaillard / AP Hide caption

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Eric Gaillard / AP

Witnesses report that heavy shots broke out for hours near the Presidential Palace in Guinea’s capital. It was not immediately known whether President Alpha Conde, seen above in August 2019, was home at the time of the shooting.

Eric Gaillard / AP

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) – Heavy gunfire erupted near the presidential palace in Guinea’s capital early Sunday and lasted for hours, witnesses said, raising security concerns in a West African nation with a long history of military seizures and coup attempts.

The Defense Department later said the Presidential Guard and other security forces had “contained the threat and rejected the group of attackers.”

“Security and full operations will continue to restore order and peace,” the statement said.

However, the statement could not be independently verified and there was no immediate comment from President Alpha Conde. State television broadcast music and other programs, but made no mention of the gunfire that echoed through the Kaloum neighborhood of Conakry all morning.

Conde has faced increasing criticism since he ran for a third term last year and said the two-term limit did not apply to him because of a constitutional referendum he held.

He was eventually re-elected, but the move resulted in violent street demonstrations in which dozens were killed, according to the opposition. The 83-year-old Conde could now stay in power until 2030 if he wins again in 2025.

In 2010 he came to power for the first time in the country’s first democratic elections since independence from France in 1958. Many saw his presidency as a new beginning for the country, which has been shaped by decades of corrupt, authoritarian rule.

However, opponents say he has failed to improve the lives of Guineans, most of whom live in poverty despite the country’s vast natural resources.

In 2011, he barely survived an assassination attempt after gunmen surrounded his home overnight and bombed his bedroom with rockets. Rocket propelled grenades landed on the site and one of his bodyguards was killed.

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