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Guinea Offers Reward for Capture of Shooter of Military Leader

Authorities say Lieutenant Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite, who is also known as Toumba, escaped the attack and is still at large with an unknown number of soldiers from the presidential guard

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Guinea's military government is offering a reward for the capture of the former head of the presidential guard whose men are accused of shooting and wounding the country's military ruler.  Regional leaders are calling for a return to civilian rule in Guinea be early next year.

The Economic Community of West African States says Guinea's military government should immediately put in place a new transitional authority leading to credible elections in early 2010 that does not include any members of the military council or its prime minister.

ECOWAS says Guinea's military is responsible for the country's "worsening security situation" where "indiscipline and infighting within the fractured army" are holding back efforts to "establish the rule of law."

That infighting came to a head Thursday when authorities say soldiers loyal to Lieutenant Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite opened fire on military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.  Diakite, who is also known as Toumba, escaped the attack and is still at large with an unknown number of soldiers from the presidential guard.

Security forces are patrolling the country's borders in search of Toumba.  The government is offering a reward for information leading to his capture.  Toumba's photograph is being broadcast on national television, and all Guineans are being urged to report any sighting.

Captain Camara was flown to a military hospital in Morocco for surgery for gunshot wounds to the head.  A physician in Morocco familiar with the situation describes the captain's condition as "not serious."  Communications Minister Idrissa Cherif says Captain Camara is recovering well from surgery that he describes as "minor." 

Key Camara ally Defense Minister Sekouba Konate returned early from a trip to Lebanon and is now running the military council in Captain Camara's absence.

Thursday's shooting apparently followed an argument between Toumba and Captain Camara about taking responsibility for the killing of opposition demonstrators two months ago.  Many witnesses say Toumba gave the order for the presidential guard to open fire on people protesting Captain Camara's expected presidential candidacy.

Local human-rights groups say dozens of women were raped and at least 157 people were killed on September 28.  The military says 57 people died.

Captain Camara has not yet announced his candidacy, but he has told several regional diplomats that he intends to run for president.  His shooting, and the upheaval that has followed, casts doubt on whether elections rescheduled for January will be held.

Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore is the ECOWAS mediator for Guinea.  His plans for an interim government have been rejected by a coalition of political parties, trade unions, and civil society groups.  That coalition says it will not take part in any transitional authority that includes members of Guinea's military.

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