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Gambian troops rally in support of President after palace attack

 Hundreds of security force members held a rally in Gambia`s capital Banjul on Saturday in support of President Yahya Jammeh, four days after an attack on the presidential palace, witnesses said.

AFP| Updated: Jan 04, 2015, 01:15 AM IST

Banjul: Hundreds of security force members held a rally in Gambia`s capital Banjul on Saturday in support of President Yahya Jammeh, four days after an attack on the presidential palace, witnesses said.

Several hundred soldiers, police, firemen and ambulance workers marched from the National Assembly to the presidential palace less than a kilometre away, the witnesses told a news agency.

The demonstration appeared aimed at proving Jammeh, who was in Dubai when gunmen attacked State House early Tuesday, still has the backing of the security forces.

"Long live the President" read one of the banners waved by the demonstrators, who included Foreign Minister Bala Garba Jaxumpa. 

"Yahya Jammeh for ever," read another.

A group of heavily-armed men attacked the presidential palace before dawn on Tuesday but were repelled by the presidential guard. 

Military sources said the gunmen, who were travelling by dugout, were led by an Army deserter.

Jammeh has led the small west African nation of two million people since taking power in a coup in 1994.

Analysts have warned that the 49-year-old leader, who is accused of ruling with an iron fist, could use Tuesday`s attack as justification for a clampdown on dissenters.

Dozens of soldiers and civilians have been arrested over the attack, a source close to the investigation said.

Jammeh has accused unidentified foreign forces of attempting to unseat him and insisted his Army was "very loyal".

"This was not a coup. This was an attack by a terrorist group backed by some powers that I would not name," he said on Thursday.