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Gambian President Returns After Apparent Coup Attempt

FILE - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh.
FILE - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh.

Officials in Gambia say President Yahya Jammeh has returned to the country, a day after an apparent coup attempt.

The officials said Jammeh arrived back in Banjul on Wednesday, though there were still conflicting reports about whether he had been in France or Dubai when the shooting took place.

Security forces locked down the city and patrolled the streets after clashes early Tuesday at the presidential palace. The government gave no official details about what happened, but in a statement denied "rumors" of instability.

Witnesses said Banjul was calm on Wednesday.

U.S. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Tuesday the United States was aware of reports of a coup attempt in Gambia.

"We strongly condemn any attempt to seize power through extra constitutional means. And we call for calm, and for all parties to refrain from further violence. We are of course in touch with our embassy in Banjul. The embassy remains open," he said.

Gambia is a former British colony surrounded by Senegal.

Human rights organizations have long criticized Jammeh's government as repressive, saying it targets political opponents, journalists and homosexuals.

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