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Botched coup in Guinea-Bissau kills six

Armed soldiers move on the main artery of the capital after heavy gunfire around the presidential palace in Bissau, Guinea Bissau February 1, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer

On Wednesday, official radio reported that at least six people were killed in a failed attempt to oust Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, as inhabitants of the city cautiously returned to everyday life.

The news: It stated four assailants and two members of the presidential guard were killed in the incident on Tuesday.

  • After gunfire rang out for more than five hours near a government facility where Embalo was conducting a cabinet meeting on Tuesday night, Embalo declared the situation under control.

The backstory: Since its independence from Portugal in 1974, the West African country, which has a population of around 2 million people, has experienced ten coups or attempted coups. Only one democratically elected president has served the entirety of his or her tenure.

  • The perpetrators of the attack, which Embalo described as not only a failed coup but also an assassination attempt, are still unknown.
  • The president said in a video that not all army units were involved, but that the attackers may have been tied to the drug trade.

In addition: Guinea-Bissau is notorious for being a significant transit hub for Latin American cocaine destined for Europe, which contributes to the country’s insecurity.

  • The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) commission president Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said the army was responsible, adding in a Twitter post on Wednesday: “I welcome the failure of the military coup attempt in Guinea-Bissau, which was an attack on democracy and the people”.

The main road connecting the city centre and the airport remained closed on Wednesday morning due to the presidential palace’s proximity, but banks and stores had reopened and people were venturing out.

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