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Gabon Presidential Guard Bombs Opposition Party HQ, Leaves 2 Dead

September 1, 2016

“The presidential guard plus some mercenaries and the police, after 1 a.m., bombed my headquarters.”

Jean Ping, chief rival to Gabonese President Ali Bongo, said the presidential guard bombed his party’s headquarters and killed two people on Thursday, according to a report by BBC Africa.

A government spokesman who confirmed the bombing to BBC said that it was done to fish out the protesters who set fire to the parliament.

“The presidential guard plus some mercenaries and the police, after 1 a.m., bombed my headquarters,” Mr. Ping said. “They destroyed everything, and we have now two deaths and several people wounded.”

Protests erupted in Libreville, the capital city, on Wednesday after Mr. Bongo was declared the winner amid accusations of rigging. According to the electoral commission, Mr. Bongo defeated his rival with 49.8 percent of the vote to his rival’s 48.23 percent.

Mr. Ping, who had declared himself winner on Sunday, has demanded a recount.

“Everybody knows that I won the election,” Mr. Ping told Reuters. “The [Bongo] family are repeating the same scenario for almost half a century. The opposition can win the elections but they never have access to power.”

He explained that an international, impartial observer should monitor the recount.

“What we are asking is, under the supervision of the international community, to count ballot by ballot, bureau by bureau. And then you will see that the margin is so big that he cannot win. It’s as simple as that,” the opposition leader told Al-Jazeera.

Reuters reported that protests spread to at least nine neighborhoods throughout Libreville on Thursday. 

Witnesses reported hearing gunfire and blasts, and others saw protesters burning tires, looting shops, and smashing cars.

The government had deployed the military and armed police officers on Tuesday in anticipation of violence.

Meanwhile Libreville locals have reported that the internet was cut on Thursday, as they observed that Twitter and Facebook stopped working.

France, the European Union, and the United States have called on the authorities to release the results of individual polling stations for the sake of transparency and urged protesters to remain calm.

Mr. Bongo, who secured his second seven-year term on Wednesday, has been president of the Central African country since 2009. He was preceded by his father, Omar Bongo, who ruled for 42 years.