Military forces in Guinea said Sunday that they had detained President Alpha Conde (center) and suspended the country's parliament and constitution in a coup. Photo by Guinea Military/EPA-EFE
Sept. 5 (UPI) -- An elite national army unit in Guinea on Sunday said it has detained the country's president and seized power following reports of gunfire near the capital.
A soldier with the country's flag wrapped around his body delivered an address on national television saying the country's parliament and constitution have been suspended and the borders had been shut.
"We are taking our destiny in our own hands," the soldier said.
The announcement came after hours of gunfire near the presidential palace in the capital of Conakry and warnings for people to remain indoors.
Guinea's defense ministry claimed in a statement to have thwarted the attempted coup by military forces.
"The presidential guard, supported by the loyalist and republican defense and security forces, contained the threat and repelled the group of assailants," the ministry said. "Security and combing operations are continuing to restore order and peace."
However, photos and video shared on the messaging platform WhatsApp showed President Alpha Conde sitting barefoot and silent, wearing jeans and a tie-dye dress shirt while surrounded by men in military fatigues.
It wasn't immediately clear where Conde, 83, was being held.
The United States late Sunday condemned the military seizure of power in Guinea while calling on all parties to stop the violence and for the Constitution and rule of law be reinstated.
"Violence and any extra-constitutional measures will only erode Guinea's prospects for peace, stability and prosperity," Ned Price, the U.S. State Department spokesman, said in a statement. "These actions could limit the ability of the United States and Guinea's other international partners to support the country as it navigates a path toward national unity and a brighter future for the Guinean people."
Mamady Doumboya, leader of the coup, said Guinea's elites were responsible for "the trampling of the rights of citizens" and "the disrespect of democratic principles."
Conde took power in 2010 during the country's first democratic election since gaining independence from France in 1958 when he pledged to reform the country's culture of corruption and authoritarianism.
Guinea, however, was thrown into unrest last March when he introduced an amendment allowing him to run for a third term and again in October when he was re-elected.
Sunday's events come amid widespread unrest in Africa as Col. Assimi Goita, leader of a military coup, was named Mali's interim president after overthrowing the country's government.