A renegade faction of Guinea's presidential guard opened fire Thursday on the African country's leader, amid rumors of deep divisions within the army nearly three months after a military-led massacre of protesters at a peaceful rally.
The incident underscores the deep rifts inside the military clique that grabbed control of the nation of 10 million on Africa's western coast just 11 months ago. Camara had initially promised to quickly organize elections, but then reversed course and began hinting that he planned to run for office, prompting a massive protest Sept. 28.
Toumba is accused of having led the presidential guard that opened fire on the peaceful protesters that had gathered inside the capital's national stadium. At least 157 people were killed and dozens of women were raped by soldiers in broad daylight.
Many were kidnapped and driven away in military trucks to private villas where they were drugged and gang raped over the course of several days, according to three survivors as well as several human rights groups.
The massacre led the European Union and the African Union to impose sanctions on Guinea, including on top members of the junta, who are now the subject of a travel ban. Sources inside the military say that it deeply aggravated divisions that were already present and has led to the clique fracturing further. Members of the junta, including Toumba, are believed to lead private armies that are faithful only to them.
Rights Group Calls on Guinea to Release Activist
A senior official said Capt Moussa Dadis Camara, who is thought to have been reluctant to leave Guinea where his coup a year ago was only the latest in a long line, had flown to Morocco.
The army captain’s departure – two months after a massacre of opposition demonstrators that prompted international sanctions – comes as splits in the military and ethnic tensions have raised fears of conflict in the world’s leading producer of bauxite, the ore used to make aluminium.
Ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt countries and a channel for South American cocaine bound for Europe, the West African nation of 10m people has known little but repression and poverty in the 50 years since it became the first French colony in Africa to gain independence.
FACTBOX-Guinean leader - from "Obama Jr" to pariah
Security officials in Conakry say Mouctar Diallo is being held because of an interview he gave to the Voice of America on September 29, the day after soldiers fired at demonstrators protesting against Guinea's military rule.
Human Rights Watch has called for the immediate release of Mouctar Diallo, a human-rights activist imprisoned in the Guinean capital Conakry.
Human Rights Watch West Africa Researcher Corinne Dufka says the ruling National Council for Democracy and Development wants to silence political opposition.