Shootout at Guinea’s presidential palace in reported coup attempt

Heavy gunfire erupted early Sunday near the presidential palace in Guinea’s capital and went on for hours, witnesses said, raising security concerns in a West African nation with a long history of military power grabs and coup attempts.

It wasn’t immediately known whether President Alpha Conde was home at the time the shooting began. Witnesses said the military later cut off access to the area, shutting down the only bridge to the Kaloum neighborhood of Conakry.

Conde has faced mounting criticism ever since he sought a third term in office last year, saying the two-term limit didn’t apply to him because of a constitutional referendum he had put forth.

He was ultimately reelected, but the move prompted violent street demonstrations in which the opposition said dozens were killed. Conde, who is 83, now could remain in power until 2030 if he wins again in 2025.

He first came to power in 2010 in the country’s first democratic election since independence from France in 1958. Many saw his presidency as a fresh start for the country, which has been mired by decades of corrupt, authoritarian rule.

Opponents, though, say he has failed to improve the lives of Guineans, most of whom live in poverty despite the country’s vast mineral riches.

In 2011, he narrowly survived an assassination attempt after gunmen surrounded his home overnight and pounded his bedroom with rockets. Rocket-propelled grenades landed inside the compound and one of his bodyguards was killed.

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