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Togo shootout

Soldiers attack Togo President's brother

Article published on the 2009-04-14 Latest update 2009-04-23 17:39 TU

Kpatcha Gnassingbe as defence minister in January 2006.(Photo: AFP)

Kpatcha Gnassingbe as defence minister in January 2006.
(Photo: AFP)

Soldiers stormed a house belonging to the brother of the Togolese president on Sunday in three-hour shootout. Kpatcha Gnassingbé, brother to Togo's President Faure Ganssingbé, reportedly escaped the attack unharmed.

Soldiers overpowered the guards at Gnassingbé's house and looted the bedrooms.

Some officials had accused him of plotting a coup. He claimed he was the victim of an assassination attempt.

Kpatcha served as Defence Minister between 2005 and 2007 before being sacked by the President, his brother Faure. He was then elected the MP for Kara, 420km north of Lomé, in legislative elections in October 2007.

"It shouldn't come as a surprise - No. Kpatcha is a military person, and he has been in the military all his life [...] so he was the obvious choice," says Benjamin Lawrance.

Analysis: Benjamin Lawrance, University of California

15/04/2009 by Michel Arseneault

People are worried about the tensions between the brothers and within the government, says RFI correspondent Ekwe Blamé. An official inquiry into the attack will take place.

"Fauré only rose to prominence in the last 3-5 years of his father's life [...] various members of the military made the decision that it would be better for their country to have in power, a younger, more modern looking, western trained leader," Lawrance told RFI.

Prosecutors on Monday said five senior military officers have been arrested for a plot, which is believed to be an alleged attempt to topple the government, and that associates and bodyaguards of the President's brother would be questioned.

Kpatcha Gnassingbé is reported to be under house arrest.

"The key issue is that Faure's position is pretty secure, because the majority of the paramilitaries [...] they firmly threw their backing behind Fauré," says Lawrance, speaking from Davis in California.

The President cancelled a trip to China on Sunday for reasons of security, Chief Prosecutor Robert Bakaï said that the security services of a foreign country had warned that an attack was being prepared.