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Gabon’s Republican Guard uses Aravis vehicles in counter-coup operation

09 January 2019
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Soldiers and vehicles – including an Aravis in the background – from the Republican Guard are seen outside the Radio Télévision Gabonaise building in Libreville on 7 January. Source: Steve Jordan/AFP/Getty Images

Gabon's Republican Guard (GR) deployed Nexter Aravis mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs) - a type it was not previously known to operate - during the operation to suppress a coup attempt in Libreville on 7 January.

Led by a lieutenant, the coup plotters claimed to be part of a hitherto unknown organisation called the Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces Youth. They took control of the headquarters of the national broadcaster Radio Télévision Gabonaise (RTG) early on 7 January and released a message announcing the establishment of a national restoration council to carry out a democratic transition.

By 1030 h local time the government claimed to have the situation under control after the Gabonese Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) assaulted the RTG building, killing two of the coup plotters and capturing most of the others; one escaped, but was captured in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, the GR, an elite component of the Gabonese Armed Forces primarily tasked with protecting President Ali Bongo and his family, deployed to secure strategic points in Libreville.

At least two GR Aravis MRAPs armed with ARX 20 remotely operated weapon stations were seen on the streets of Libreville in videos and photographs. Other vehicles deployed included at least two Arquus Bastions, and two VBLs.

Nexter announced in October 2014 that Gabon had ordered 12 Aravis that would be armed with its ARX 20 to equip the battalion it would contribute to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

Due to payment issues only eight Aravis were eventually delivered in 2015, all fitted with the ARX 20. One of these was seen in the Central African Republic in a photograph released by MINUSCA in 2016.

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