Coup attempts in Gambia foiled as soldiers lock down capital

(Reuters) Gunfire erupted in Gambia's capital Banjul overnight and soldiers blocked the bridge leading to the center of the seaside city amid media reports of an attempted coup.

A diplomat said unknown gunmen had attacked State House during the night but shooting died down later. Local media and diplomats said Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh was in France when the violence broke out.

Jammeh, who himself came to power in a coup 20 years ago, has stifled dissent in the tiny West African nation and faced increased criticism from abroad over his human rights record.

In recent years, Jammeh has frequently reshuffled senior military and civilian officials, a move that prevented individuals from becoming too powerful but stoked instability.

Banks and other offices remained closed on Tuesday, residents said. State radio played traditional kora music and did not refer to the incident.

There was no official confirmation of the reports on Twitter and media of an attempted coup.

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