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Sunday Alamba, FILE, Associated Press
In this Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, file photo, Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh arrives for a summit to address a seminar on security during an event marking the centenary of the unification of Nigeria's north and south in Abuja, Nigeria. Heavy gunfire is reported Tuesday Dec. 30, 2014, near the presidential palace in Gambia, according to local residents, raising the specter of a coup attempt while the longtime ruler is currently visiting France, state media reported. On Tuesday, soldiers linked to his presidential guard were believed to be involved in the fighting, according to witnesses who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

DAKAR, Senegal — Soldiers loyal to Gambia President Yahya Jammeh went house-to-house in search of opponents Thursday after the longtime leader blamed "terrorist groups" for staging an attempt coup earlier this week.

Jammeh, who had been out of the country at the time of Tuesday's attack and has since returned to Banjul, the capital, alleged that the coup plotters had received backing from some foreign countries.

After hours of fighting, forces loyal to Jammeh's regime succeeded in getting the upper hand, killing five insurgents. It was not immediately known how many casualties were suffered by the national military.

"We are all gripped by fear," said a Banjul resident who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Gambia is a small sliver of a country surrounded by Senegal where human rights activists say Jammeh has long targeted political opponents, journalists, and gays and lesbians.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for "a transparent investigation" into Tuesday's events that respects human rights, due process and the rule of law, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Jammeh is one of Africa's most vocal anti-gay leaders and has previously threatened to behead sexual minorities found in his country. The U.S. government recently removed Gambia from a trade agreement in response to human rights abuses, including a law signed in October that imposes life imprisonment for some homosexual acts.

Jammeh also drew swift condemnation from activists in 2007 after he insisted that HIV-positive patients stop taking their antiretroviral medications, claiming he could cure them with an herbal body rub and bananas.