Guinea’s ex-dictator Moussa Dadis Camara was recaptured and returned to prison on Saturday, hours after an apparent jailbreak led by a heavily armed commando, the army and his lawyer said.
At least two other former officials on trial alongside Camara over a 2009 massacre during his presidency were taken in the earlier operation that sparked heavy gunfire in the capital Conakry, a minister and lawyers said.
“Captain Moussa Dadis Camara has been found safe and sound and taken back to prison,” an army spokesperson told AFP, without specifying the circumstances of the capture.
One of Camara’s lawyers, Jocamey Haba, told AFP his client was back behind bars.
Justice Minister Alphonse Charles Wright said earlier that at around 0500 GMT “heavily armed men” burst into the prison and “managed to leave with four (prisoners)… notably Captain Moussa Dadis Camara”.
He said the borders had been closed.
It was unclear whether Camara had escaped of his own free will.
The army described the operation as an attempt to “sabotage” government reforms and swore its “unwavering commitment” to the current military-led authorities.
A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the masked and heavily armed soldiers who arrived at Conakry’s central prison declared they “had come to free” Camara.
Inside, the group headed towards his cell, appearing to already know its location, the source said.
Haba told AFP he believed his client had been “kidnapped” and his life was “in danger”.
“He has confidence in the justice of his country, which is why he would never try to escape,” he added, referring to the ongoing trial against Camara.
Wright also said Colonel Moussa Tiegboro Camara – another of the men taken from prison – had since been “recaptured”.
Tiegboro Camara’s lawyer said he had escaped from what he described as his “captors”.
City is ‘sealed’
Several Guinean news sites quickly reported that Saturday’s events were not another putsch, but that a heavily armed commando had attacked the central prison.
The sound of gunfire could be heard before dawn in Kaloum – a central district that houses the presidency, several top government and administrative offices, the military headquarters and the main prison.
One witness, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there had been gunfire in the central district.
“The city centre has been sealed since dawn, we can neither enter nor leave,” a shopkeeper added, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
“I wanted to go to the port area where I work but was prevented from leaving (Kaloum), where armoured vehicles have been deployed.”
An airport source said no flights had taken off from Conakry’s international airport on Saturday morning as air traffic staff could not get to the airport from Kaloum, where they often spend the night.
Guinea, a West African country of about 14 million people, has been led by a junta since Doumbouya stormed the presidential palace with soldiers and overthrew civilian president Alpha Conde in September 2021.