CONAKRY - Guinea junta chief Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was on Friday flying to Morocco for medical checks after surviving a gun attack by a former military aide, a spokesman said.
Camara was wounded in the attack late on Thursday by his own soldiers in an incident that underlined the fragility of Guinea, the world's top exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite and one of a cluster of unstable countries in West Africa.
Camara's departure immediately raised questions about his future. While there was no suggestion that he had been overthrown, analysts and observers believe he may not return to Guinea and could instead be persuaded to take exile.
If he leaves the country, that would be it for him, one diplomat in Conakry said.
He has gone there for a check-up, Communications Minister Idrissa Cherif told Reuters.
Power is in the hands of the CNDD (junta) and the government, Cherif said.
A Senegalese diplomatic source said Camara was on a Burkinabe aircraft going to Morocco, accompanied by a Senegalese doctor.
Morocco has been a longstanding destination for Guinea's elite to seek medical care. Burkina Faso and Senegal have been key players in attempts to resolve the crisis in Guinea.
Earlier, Guinea's ruling junta said order had been restored to the capital Conakry on Friday.
Residents said gunshots were heard across the city overnight as security forces hunted down suspects, and soldiers were seen guarding thoroughfares and other strategic points.
The government can offer the assurance that the situation is under control, a junta official said on state television after the violence flared late on Thursday.
President Moussa Dadis Camara was slightly wounded. Very fortunately, his life is not in danger, said the official, reading from a statement.
The attack happened as U.N. investigators in Conakry wound up their inquiry into the September 28 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in which more than 150 protesters were killed and scores of women raped, according to witnesses.
The statement said Camara's former aide de camp, Lieutenant Aboubacar Toumba Diakite, was behind the attack on Camara.
Witnesses and human rights groups have named Toumba as a leading figure in the September killings, for which junta leaders could face international prosecution.
What we are hearing is that they either arrested Toumba or were going to arrest him and he shot at Dadis. There is no doubt this is linked to the investigation, a diplomat said.
He said Camara probably wanted to blame Toumba for the September 28 killings to deflect any accusations from himself.
This was the only way out for him (Camara), the diplomat said.
Communications Minister Idrissa Cherif said Toumba had been located somewhere in the capital and added: Those who orchestrated this insurrection will be punished.
Military sources gave conflicting reports on whether Toumba had since been arrested.
Prior to the incident, Toumba and a heavily armed entourage of soldiers had held up police and sprung a fellow member of the military from jail.
The shooting alerted Captain Camara, a police official said. It was in this moment that he was wounded by gunfire.
Camara came to power in a bloodless coup last December after the death of strongman Lansana Conte. He initially promised to allow a transition to civilian rule but has since delayed elections and refused to hand over power.
(Additional reporting by David Lewis in Libreville; writing by Mark John and Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Giles Elgood)