Guinean special forces have seized power in a coup, arresting the president and imposing an indefinite curfew in the west African country.

"We have decided, after having taken the president, to dissolve the constitution," said a uniformed officer flanked by soldiers toting assault rifles in a video sent to AFP.

The officer also said that Guinea's land and air borders had been shut and the government dissolved.

An earlier video sent to AFP by the coup leader showed President Alpha Conde sitting on a sofa surrounded by troops.

The 83-year-old leader refused to answer a question from one soldier about whether he had been mistreated.

Later, the junta announced a nationwide curfew "until further notice", saying it would convene Mr Conde's cabinet ministers this morning.

"Any refusal to attend will be considered a rebellion," the statement added.

The country's governors and other top administrators will be replaced by the military, the statement said.

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For their appearance on state television, members of the junta were wearing berets and dressed in fatigues, with no weapons apparent.

The nation of around 13 million people is one of the world's poorest countries despite boasting significant mineral resources, but it has long been beset by political instability.

Earlier, residents of the capital Conakry's Kaloum district, the government quarter, had reported hearing heavy gunfire.

One Western diplomat in Conakry, who declined to be named, suggested the unrest may have started after the dismissal of a senior commander in the special forces, provoking some of its highly trained members to rebel.

AFP was unable to independently confirm this account.

The head of Guinea's military special forces, Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, appeared on public television, draped in the national flag, saying government "mismanagement" prompted the coup.

"We are no longer going to entrust politics to one man, we are going to entrust politics to the people," he said.

The US State Department condemned the coup and warned it could "limit" Washington's ability to support Guinea.

"Violence and any extra-constitutional measures will only erode Guinea's prospects for peace, stability, and prosperity," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement, urging all parties to abide by the rule of law.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the coup in a tweet and called for Mr Conde's immediate release.

The chairman of the African Union, DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, and the head of its executive body, former Chadian prime minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, also condemned it, calling for Mr Conde's immediate release.

The coup follows a long period of political tension in Guinea, first spurred by Mr Conde's highly contested bid for a third presidential term last year.

The day before the presidential election last year, the military blocked access to Kaloum after an alleged military rebellion east of the capital.

The coup plotters have announced a national committee for assembly and development and say the constitution will be rewritten.

Lt Col Doumbouya also told French media "we are holding all of Conakry," and that he had the support of all the defence and security forces.

News of the coup sparked celebrations in some parts of the capital, where hundreds of people applauded the soldiers.

The most recent presidential poll in Guinea, in October 2020, was marred by violence and accusations of electoral fraud.

Mr Conde won a controversial third term, but only after pushing through a new constitution in March 2020 allowing him to sidestep the country's two-term limit.

Dozens of people were killed during demonstrations against a third term for Mr Conde, often in clashes with security forces. Hundreds more were arrested.