January 02, 2015
Several dozen military personnel and civilians were arrested, and a large cache of weapons and explosives were found following a reported coup attempt in The Gambia, an intelligence source said Thursday.
The suspects have been interrogated and were being held in “four villas” in or near the tiny west African nation’s capital Banjul, said a source close to Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Gambia’s strongman leader Yahya Jammeh, who was visiting Dubai at the time of the attack, blamed unidentified foreign dissidents and “terrorists” for the assault Tuesday on his presidential palace, and denied it was an attempt to unseat him.
“It is an attack by dissidents based in the US, Germany and UK,” Jammeh said in a televised address Wednesday. “This was not a coup. This was an attack by a terrorist group backed by some powers that I would not name.”
Jammeh insisted that the armed forces “are very loyal” and that only former soldiers, including a senior commander, had taken part in the attack on his palace.
“No force can take this place and nobody can destabilise this country,” he said. “Anybody who plans to attack this country, be ready, because you are going to die.”
A group of heavily armed men led by an army deserter attacked the presidential palace before dawn, but were repelled by forces loyal to Jammeh, who has ruled for 20 years since he seized power in a 1994 coup that ousted Gambia’s founding leader Sir Dawda Jawara.
Investigators have allegedly seized the plan laying out the attack, in which the three suspects, including the alleged ringleader were killed, according to a military officer.
One of the alleged conspirators also led authorities to “a large quantity of very sophisticated automatic weapons and explosives,” in a shipping container disguised as second-hand clothing at Banjul’s port, the source close to the NIA said.
Four officers suspected of participating in the attempt had taken refuge in the neighbouring west African nation of Guinea-Bissau, a military source told AFP.
Gambia is a popular winter sun destination for European holidaymakers, especially from Britain.
Source: Vanguard NG