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Gambia’s strongman leader Yahya Jammeh has blamed unidentified foreign dissidents and “terrorists” for an assault on his presidential palace and said that the army remains loyal.
“It is an attack by dissidents based in the US, Germany and UK,” Jammeh said in a televised address overnight 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 Tuesday’s attack on his palace in the capital Banjul.
“No force can take this place and nobody can destabilise this country. Anybody who plans to attack this country, be ready, because you are going to die,” he said.
The attack, mounted by a group of heavily armed men led by an army deserter, was repelled by forces loyal to Jammeh, who has ruled Gambia with an iron hand for 20 years. At least three people died during the fighting, according to unconfirmed reports.
Jammeh returned overnight Wednesday from Dubai where he was on a private visit at the time of the putsch attempt.
Three suspects including the alleged ringleader identified as Lamin Sanneh were killed, according to a military officer.