Heavy gunfire heard around the Government palace in Guinea-Bissau Heavy gunfire erupted Tuesday near the Government Palace in Guinea-Bissau’s capital, witnesses said, raising fears of a coup attempt in this West African country with a long history of military takeovers.
President Umaro Cissoko Embalo, a former army general, was believed to be inside the building at the time of the attack. President Embalo and Prime Minister Nuno Gomes Nabiam were believed to be attending a cabinet meeting along with other ministers.
People were seen fleeing the area, the local markets were closed and banks shut their doors, while military vehicles laden with troops drove through the streets. The West African bloc ECOWAS has condemned the ‘attempted coup’ in Guinea-Bissau stating that the military is responsible for the wellbeing of President Umaro Sissoco Embalo and members of his government, the bloc said in a statement. United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called for an immediate end to fighting in the small coup-prone West African state of Guinea-Bissau and called for full respect of the country’s democratic institutions.
The country has suffered four military putsches since gaining independence in 1974, most recently in 2012. In 2014, the country vowed to return to constitutional government, but there has been little stability since then and the armed forces wield substantial clout.