The fate of Guinea’s President Alpha Condé is unclear after an unverified video showed him surrounded by soldiers, who said they had seized power.
They appeared on national TV claiming to have dissolved the government.
However, the defence ministry said the attempted takeover had been thwarted by the presidential guard.
This follows hours of heavy gunfire near the presidential palace in the capital, Conakry.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and the African Union have condemned the apparent coup and demanded the immediate release of President Condé.
The West African country of Guinea is rich in natural resources but years of unrest and mismanagement mean it is one of the world’s poorest countries.
President barefoot on a sofa
The TV address featured nine unnamed soldiers, several draped in the red, gold and green national flag, who said they had taken over because of rampant corruption, mismanagement and poverty.
Calling themselves the National Committee for Reconciliation and Development, they said the constitution had been dissolved and that there would be consultations to create a new, more inclusive one.
Numerous reports say the coup was led by an elite unit headed by a former French legionnaire, Lt Col Mamady Doumbouya.
In one video, which the BBC has not been able to verify, soldiers ask President Condé, 83, to confirm he is unharmed but he refuses to respond.
Sitting barefoot on a sofa wearing jeans and a printed shirt, he does not have any visible injuries. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Those behind the coup said that all land and air borders had been closed for a week.
However, according to the defence ministry, forces loyal to the president have “contained the threat and repelled the group of assailants”.
Earlier, the only bridge connecting the mainland to the Kaloum peninsular, which houses most ministries and the presidential palace, was sealed off while many soldiers, some heavily armed, were posted around the palace, a military source told Reuters news agency.
There are unconfirmed reports that three soldiers have been killed.
Following the news, opposition supporters and activists took to the streets in celebration.
“We are here to show our joy because we suffered a lot over time,” Abdoulaye Oumou Sow said. “We have been very patient.”