A group of soldiers sought to take power in Gabon today while the country’s ailing president was abroad, but the government declared the bid had failed and the rebels had been arrested.

Soldiers burst into state radio offices at dawn and called on the public to rise up after President Ali Bongo suffered a stroke last year while out of the country. Shots were heard around state broadcasting headquarters in Libreville, capital of the oil-rich West African nation, at about the same time as the message was read at 6:30am.  According to Mapangou, Security forces have been deployed in the capital and will remain there over the coming days in order to maintain order. The elite Republican Guard was deployed around the building and armoured vehicles blocked access to the area, an AFP correspondent saw. Mapangou added that the gunfire earlier was to control a crowd. The dramatic developments came as Bongo is living at a private residence in the Moroccan capital Rabat after suffering a stroke. He made a televised speech on New Year’s Eve but has not been in the country since October.