Six killed in Guinea Bissau firefight: sources

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 21, 2012 8:20 AM
Six killed in Guinea Bissau firefight: sources

BISSAU (Reuters) - Six people were killed in a gunbattle near Guinea-Bissau's capital overnight in an apparent counter-coup attempt, sources said on Sunday.

The West African state, a hub for international cocaine traffickers, is in the midst of a messy recovery after the army overthrew the government and derailed elections in April.

"It appears to have been a failed counter-coup," one diplomatic source said of the fighting, asking not to be named. "The military is checking vehicles around Bissau, mostly vehicles that are leaving," he said.

Military officials said the fighting erupted overnight near an airforce base just outside the city, adding six "rebels" were killed and several others detained.

Some of the attackers were from an ethnic group, Djolla, common in neighboring Senegal's southern Casamance region, they said, asking not to be named.

They declined to comment on whether the attack targeted General Antonio Indjai who led the April coup and is believed to have a residence near the airforce base.

Several Bissau officials, including election front-runner and former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, went into exile in Portugal after the April coup.

Other political and military allies of Gomes Junior sought refuge in Gambia.

Guinea Bissau's transitional government, charged with setting new elections, has backing from West African regional block ECOWAS but it lacks the full support of the United Nations, the European Union and the CPLP grouping of Portuguese-speaking countries who say it remains under army influence.

(Reporting by Alberto Dabo; Additional reporting and writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Janet Lawrence)