US Army Special Forces troops were training special operations troops in the West African nation of Guinea when the Guineans left the training to take part in a coup organized by their commander.

The Guinean special operations troops stormed the presidential palace in the capital, Conakry, placing the country’s president, 83-year-old Alpha Condé, under house arrest at an undetermined location. A few hours later, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, the commander of the Guinean special operations forces, announced the coup and the suspension of the country’s constitution.

Doumbouya was well-known to the Americans as he had participated in several joint American/Guinean exercises. He was a former officer in the French Foreign Legion and, at one time, a close ally of the deposed president.

Once the coup took place, the American Green Berets from the 3rd Special Forces Group, quickly suspended their activity and moved, with Guinea security personnel support, to the U.S. Embassy in Conakry. 

The Green Berets have been in the country since mid-July training Doumbouya’s special forces troops on a regularly scheduled Joint Combined Exchange Training event (JCET). The base where the training took place was in Forécariah, close to Guinea’s border with Sierra Leone, and about a four-hour drive from the presidential palace.

Screenshot of American SF troops driving through the crowds of Conakry, Guinea en route to the U.S. Embassy. (Twitter)

Apparently, the Guinean troops waited until early Sunday morning, while the Americans were sleeping, before slipping away and driving to the capital to conduct the coup.

Kelly Callahan, a spokesperson for the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), said the SF troops suspended the training as soon as they realized that a coup was unfolding. The coup, she said, is “incompatible with U.S. military training and education.”

The United States, the United Nations, as well as the African Union have condemned the coup.