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Followers of Togolese President's Brother Questioned after Violence Near Lome


Army officers loyal to the brother of Togo's president are under arrest following violence near the capital, Lome, and what officials say was an imminent threat against the president.

Chief Prosecutor Robert Bakai said President Faure Gnassingbe canceled a trip to China when the security services of a foreign country warned that an attack against him was imminent.

Because of the gravity of the planned attack, Bakai said Togo state intelligence services began monitoring the activities of those suspected of plotting the violence.

In a nationally-broadcast statement late Monday, Bakai said security forces sought to question the president's brother Kpatcha Gnasssingbe.

When security forces went to the home of the president's brother late Sunday evening, Bakai said they were shot at by bodyguards and soldiers inside the compound. The chief prosecutor says the shoot-out that followed in the Lome suburbs was unprovoked and that security forces called for reinforcements before forcing their way into the compound.

Bakai said an inquiry is underway of what he called an "unfortunate situation." He added that security officials have already questioned five army officers and will interrogate members of Kpatcha Gnassingbe's entourage.

Kpatcha Gnassingbe says he is the victim of an assassination attempt. He was Togo's minister of defense from 2005 until he was sacked by his brother in 2007. He is a member of parliament representing the Kara District, some 420 kilometers north of the capital.

President Faure Gnassingbe was elected in 2005 following the death of his father, long-time Togolese leader Gnassingbe Eyadema. Election observers said the violent 2005 election was seriously flawed. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2010.

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