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Guinea Tightens Security After Shooting

Guinea's army was put on high alert in the capital Conakry following a possible assassination attempt against President Lansana Conte.

Members of the presidential guard known as the red berets were stopping cars around the presidential palace in Conakry late Wednesday and nearby buildings were evacuated. State radio was also tightly guarded by the military, as were downtown streets.

Witnesses said they saw several pickup trucks carrying shirtless young men - apparently individuals detained by the military. The heightened security measures followed an incident earlier in the day in which someone fired several shots at a motorcade carrying President Conte. It was not immediately clear who was behind the shooting.

One presidential guard was reported injured. An opposition leader, Assiato Bah Diallo, says the whole capital is now on edge.

"When things like this happen everybody goes home," she said. "I was in town and you had the military all over. And they were chasing the people and trying to encourage them to go home. And most of the businessmen closed the stores."

Mr. Conte, who seized power in a coup in 1984, won re-election last year in a poll marred by allegations of fraud. Mrs. Diallo says since then there has been growing popular unrest over rising prices.

"Right now you have the professors at the schools they have been on strike for two weeks, at least," she said. "And once in a while in some of the suburbs the students they move [protest]." But she says there is no armed opposition to the government. However, there have been waves of arrests within the military in recent months, over suspected coup plots.

Many regional analysts say Guinea might soon have its own armed rebellion, much like those that occurred in neighboring Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone in recent years.