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LIBREVILLE: Gabon’s government has retained control of the West African country after an attempted military coup early Monday in which two plotters were killed, the government said.

Five army officers who took over state radio in the coup attempt have been arre­­­­sted, government spok­esman Guy-Betrand Mapangou, told Radio France International.

Authorities regained control of state broadcasting offices and a major thoroughfare in the capital, Libreville, which were the only areas taken over by the officers, the spokesman said.

Two of the coup participants were killed when security forces took over and freed some hostages, according to a presidential statement reported by RFI.

Earlier Monday a soldier who identified himself as Lt Obiang Ondo Kelly, commander of the Republican Guard, read out a statement saying the military had seized control of Gabon’s government in order to “restore democracy”. He was flanked by two other soldiers holding weapons; all were dressed in camouflage uniforms and green berets.

Those soldiers have been taken into custody and Pres­i­­­dent Ali Bongo’s governm­ent remains in control, the government spokesman said.

A curfew has been imposed over the capital, Libreville, and the internet was cut. The city was being patrolled by military tanks and armed vehicles.

The African Union affir­med its support for the Bon­go government. “The Afri­c­an Union strongly conde­m­­ns the coup attempt this mo­­rning in Gabon,” the head of the African Union Comm­is­sion, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said on Twitter.

Bongo, in power since 2009, has been out of the country since October amid reports that he had a stroke. He recently addressed the country in a New Year’s message that was filmed in Morocco, where he has been receiving medical treatment.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019