Two soldiers who took part in Monday’s attempted coup in Gabon have been reportedly killed.
According to a statement released by President Ali Bongo’s office, the rebel soldiers were shot dead after security officers stormed the national radio building which they had taken over.
Three other the junior officers who claimed they had seized power to restore democracy in the oil-rich country which the ailing leader’s family has ruled for 50 years have also been arrested.
According to Radio France Internationale (RFI), leader of the coup attempt, Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang was on the run for a brief period before he was found hiding under a bed.
“The situation is under control. The situation is calm. The gendarmes who are often stationed there have taken control of the entire area around the radio and TV headquarters, so everything is back to normal,” Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, a spokesman for the government said.
Mapangou added that the army generals, civil society and opposition leaders who were mentioned in the rebels’ statement as potential supporters would be investigated.
The main opposition group in the central African country, The Coalition for the New Republic has however denied any link with the rebel soldiers.
One of its leading members, Paul-Marie Gondjout, told reporters that soldiers and the police were searching vehicles on main roads in the country’s capital, Libreville.
“We see order, but we don’t know what is going on. The country needs to be run and we have no government, no head of state,” Mr. Gongjout said.
He added that with President Ali Bongo out of the country for treatment since October after suffering a stroke, his deputy should be sworn in as head of state.
The 59-year-old Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo as president in 2009. He narrowly won re-election in 2016 in a poll marred by violence and accusations of electoral fraud.
The coup attempt came as a huge surprise to many as the army in Gabon has always been seen as loyal to the Bongo family because it is dominated by the presidential guard, who mostly hail from Mr. Bongo’s home region.