Two persons have been killed with more than a dozen injured as Gabon security forces besieged the opposition’s headquarters early Thursday as violence erupted after President Ali Bongo was declared the winner of the country’s disputed polls.
On Wednesday, thousands of angry protesters poured onto the streets of the capital, Libreville, accusing the government of rigging the election after Bongo won a second term by a razor-thin margin over rival Jean Ping.
Barrage of firing crackled across the city and plumes of smoke billowed from the torched parliament building as anti-government protesters clashed with heavily armed security forces.
“Security forces surrounded the opposition headquarters overnight and stormed the building in the early hours of Thursday morning, killing two and injuring more than a dozen there,” Ping to AFP.
He continued: “They attacked around 1am. It is the Republican Guard. They were bombarding with helicopters and then they attacked on the ground. There are 19 people injured, some of them very seriously.”
It was not immediately clear where Ping – a veteran diplomat and former top African Union official who had earlier declared himself the poll winner – had taken refuge.
Scenes of pillaging were reported from outlying districts and telephone and internet communications were cut.
The president of the opposition National Union party, Zacharie Myboto, who was inside the besieged building, said security forces were hurling tear gas canisters and had opened fire.
“For nearly an hour the building has been surrounded. They want to enter the building… it is extremely violent,” he said shortly after the siege began.