The civilian government of President Vinicio Cerezo said it thwarted a coup attempt Tuesday by air force officers and soldiers.
Government spokesman Carlos Anleu said troops loyal to Cerezo arrested an undetermined number of air force personnel who participated in the coup attempt, which lasted about two hours."Everything is under control," Anleu said. He said the coup was put down with no shots fired.
The attempt was staged by a tactical unit of the air force based south of Guatemala City in a military section of the international airport, Anleu said, and was led by retired military officers. He did not identify them.
The coup attempt was stopped when soldiers loyal to the government entered the city in tanks and helicopters, the spokesman said.
About 6:30 a.m. troops and soldiers, many wearing the blue handerkerchiefs that are a sign of loyalists, surrounded the home of the defense minister, Gen. Alejandro Gramajo. Military planes and helicopters flew overhead and tanks were parked strategically nearby.
In May 1988, a military coup attempt failed when Gramajo refused to join it and backed the civilian government.
By 8:30 a.m., most of the troops had returned to their barracks and the aircraft returned to their bases. Morning rush-hour activity had returned to normal in the capital. Radio stations played military music during the attempt, then returned to normal programming.
In Washington, a State Department official said reports from the U.S. Embassy and from Guatemalans also indicated the coup attempt was unsuccessful. The official said the coup attempt may have been aimed not at Cerezo, whose whereabouts were unknown, but at Granajo or other cabinet ministers.