Gunfire erupted in the capital of the Gambia, Banjul, overnight as soldiers blocked the bridge leading to the centre of the coastal 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 the Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh, was in France when the violence broke out.
Jammeh, who came to power in a coup 20 years ago, has stifled dissent in the small west African country 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 has led to 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 or other media of an attempted coup.