Dozens of Israelis Trapped in Army Mutiny in Conakry-Guinea

Dozens of Israelis are trapped in Conakry, Guinea, where angry soldiers kidnapped a commander and shut down the African capital over unpaid wages.

Hana Levi Julian ,

Map of Conakry-Guinea
Map of Conakry-Guinea
Israel News Photo: (file photo)

Dozens of Israeli citizens are trapped in Conakry, Guinea, where mutinous soldiers have shut down the city in outrage over unpaid wages.  Conakry is the capital and largest city of Guinea.

Most of the Israelis in the Western African nation are employees of firms specializing in infrastructure and telecommunications projects.

The trapped Jews are in touch with Israel's Foreign Ministry, which is attempting to determine a safe escape route that will enable them to leave the country.  Israel has no diplomatic relations with Guinea, according to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Three Dead, Dozens Wounded in Violence So Far
Long-time dictator President Lonsana Conte unexpectedly fired Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate last week, fanning the flames of discontent among soldiers and civilians who charge the government with mismanaging the country's finances and energy resources.

At least three people were killed and dozens injured, mostly civilians, in the violence that began Monday when young soldiers kidnapped the army's second-in-command, Mamadou Sampil. The junior-level troops were also shooting in the air from their barracks to express their displeasure. 

While loyalist troops sealed off the center of the city to protect the presidency and key installations, bursts of gunfire continued to ring out periodically from military camps around the capital. Residents stayed indoors and cars stayed off the streets. Shops were being reported looted and civilians robbed.

A US military plane that arrived to deliver diplomatic supplies was not allowed to land and complete the task, prompting the American embassy to issue a stern response. "The United States regrets this breach of established diplomatic protocol and intends to bring it up at the highest levels of the Guinean government," the US embassy said, according to the Reuters news service.

The disgruntled troops, who demanded eight years' back pay and other concessions, did not appear to be mollified by a government offer Wednesday to pay each soldier five million Guinean francs (less than USD $1,000) and release jailed soldiers from last year's revolt. The soldiers have also charged the heads of the army, navy and air force, as well as the Defense Minister with corruption and stealing food supplies, and demanded they be dismissed.