Malabo – A military coup in Equatorial Guinea has been thwarted according to the authorities of the West African state, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported Thursday.
Clashes on Wednesday, near Equatorial Guinea’s border with Cameroon, were reported by state television TVGE which said the aim of the attempted coup was to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Africa's longest-serving leader.
During the clashes, government troops shot a “mercenary” dead and used gunfire to disperse other armed men in the forests along the border.
No figures were given as to how many “mercenaries” were involved or how long the clashes lasted.
The clashes followed an earlier incident when Security Minister Nicolas Obama Nchama said on public radio that another attempted coup had taken place on December 24 which he said involved foreign mercenaries recruited by political opponents.
"A group of Chadian, Sudanese and Centrafricans (citizens of the Central African Republic) infiltrated Kye Ossi, Ebibeyin, Mongomo, Bata and Malabo to attack the head of state, who was in the Koete Mongomo presidential palace for the year-end holiday," said Nchama.
The "mercenaries were recruited by Equatorial Guinean militants from certain radical opposition parties with the support of certain powers", he added.
The attempted infiltration had been repelled thanks to an operation carried out "in collaboration with the Cameroon security services".
On December 27, 38 heavily armed men on the border with the tiny state were arrested by the Guinea authorities.
The men were armed with rocket launchers, rifles and a stockpile of ammunition.
Equatorial Guinea's borders with Gabon and Cameroon were closed the same day.
Two days later, Equatorial Guinea's ambassador to France, Miguel Oyono Ndong Mifumu, referred to the incident as an "invasion and destabilisation attempt".
On Saturday, Equatorial Guinea’s ambassador to Chad was arrested in Ebibeyin, near the Cameroon border, in connection with December’s attempted coup. He is currently being held in a military camp.
Equatorial Guinea is one of sub-Sahara's biggest oil producers but a large proportion of its 1.2 million population lives in poverty.
Obiang has been in power for over 38 years and stands accused by critics of brutal repression of opponents, electoral fraud and corruption.
He took power in a coup on August 3, 1979, ousting his own uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, who was shot by firing squad.