Gambian president blames foreign 'terrorists' for coup attempt

President Yahya Jammeh claimed that those behind Tuesday's failed coup plotters had received backing from foreign countries. Locals now say they fear a crackdown.

A giant billboard of Gambia President Yahya Jammeh sits on an empty street in Banjul, Gambia, on Wednesday. Heavy gunfire rang out Tuesday near the presidential palace in the tiny West African nation of Gambia, residents said, raising the specter of a coup attempt while the longtime ruler is out of the country.

Soldiers loyal to Gambian President Yahya Jammeh went house-to-house in search of opponents Thursday after the longtime leader blamed "terrorist groups" for staging a coup attempt earlier this week.

Mr. Jammeh, who was out of the country at the time of Tuesday's attack but has since returned to Banjul, the capital, alleged that the coup plotters had received backing from some foreign countries.

"I live for the Gambia and I will die fighting for the truth. No human being can do anything to me, my government or the Gambia," Jammeh said. "It was not a coup. It was an attack by dissidents based in the US, Germany and United Kingdom."

After hours of fighting, forces loyal to Jammeh's regime succeeded in getting the upper hand, killing five insurgents. It was not immediately known how many casualties were suffered by the national military.

"We are all gripped by fear," said one Banjul resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Gambia is a small sliver of a country surrounded by Senegal where human rights activists say Jammeh has long targeted political opponents, journalists, and gays and lesbians.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for "a transparent investigation" into Tuesday's events that respects human rights, due process and the rule of law, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Jammeh is one of Africa's most vocal anti-gay leaders and has previously threatened to behead sexual minorities found in his country. The US government recently removed Gambia from a trade agreement in response to human rights abuses, including a law signed in October that imposes life imprisonment for some homosexual acts.

Jammeh also drew swift condemnation from activists in 2007 after he insisted that HIV-positive patients stop taking their antiretroviral medications, claiming he could cure them with an herbal body rub and bananas.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Gambian president blames foreign 'terrorists' for coup attempt
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today