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Saturday, 15 January, 2000, 17:56 GMT
Gambia foils coup plot

jammeh President Jammeh himself seized power in 1994


Gambia says its security services have foiled a plot to overthrow President Yahya Jammeh.

The interior ministry accused two senior officers of the president's bodyguard of being the ringleaders.

The ministry said that Lieutenant Almamo Manneh was intercepted by loyal security forces on Friday evening and shot dead when he opened fire on them. And the commander of the State Guard, Lieutenant Landing Sanneh, was wounded while resisting arrest.

The ministry said in a statement: "The general public is assured that the situation is completely under control and there is no cause for alarm or panic."

Shooting

The announcement came after shooting was heard around the national radio premises in the Gambian capital, Banjul. A correspondent for the BBC in the city says it is not clear what was behind the alleged coup plot - nor how many soldiers were involved.

The interior ministry said security forces had been shadowing the two officers for months as they prepared to launch a coup attempt "in the early hours of Saturday, January 15".

'Discontent'

Under the coup plot, the interior ministry said Lieutenant Manneh was to take control of the Fajara and Yundum Barracks and mobilise support for the action.

The ministry added that the plotters had been harassing people in different parts of the town as part of a bid to sow discontent among civilians. The Presidential Guard had been placed on high alert after the discovery of the plot.

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh seized power as a junior army officer in 1994. He won the presidency in multi-party elections in 1996.

The country's armed forces number less than 1,000 men.

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