Guinea-Bissau president, army chief killed in attacks (Second Lead)

March 2nd, 2009 - 6:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi/Lisbon/Bissau, March 2 (DPA) Guinea-Bissau President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira was shot dead in the capital Bissau early Monday, following the killing Sunday evening of army chief Batista Tagme Na Wai, media reports said.
The bodies of Vieira and of another person were removed from his residence, a palace source told the Portuguese news agency Lusa.

Soldiers close to Na Wai, who held Vieira responsible for his death, shot the 69-year-old president as he tried to escape, the daily Publico quoted army spokesman Zamora Induta as saying.

A palace press spokesman was reported wounded.

Looters were taking furniture, electronic equipment, carpets and clothing from the palace, according to Portuguese reports.

A palace door had been torn off by a rocket, and damaged cars could be seen outside the palace wall.

Guinea-Bissau could now “progress” because Vieira had “blocked everything”, Induta said.

The Portuguese government said it “profoundly deplored” Vieira’s death, and announced an emergency meeting of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) over the events in the former Portuguese colony.

CPLP Secretary-General Domingos Simoes Pereira described the events as “unfortunate” and “serious”.

Na Wai, who was known as a critic of Vieira, claimed in January that people close to the president had tried to kill him.

Wai was killed in an attack on army headquarters Sunday evening, with BBC reporting that at least five people were wounded in the explosion on the compound which destroyed part of the building.

Army officers of the small West-African state then ordered two private radio stations to cease broadcasting in order to “protect the journalists”.

Overnight shooting and rocket explosions were reported in several parts of the capital.

Guinea Bissau, one of the world’s poorest countries, has a history of coups, and also serves as a key hub for South American drug cartels. A number of Colombian drug lords own prime real estate in the country.

Vieira in November survived a gun attack at his home. A special militia drawn up to protect the president was dissolved again in January after reports that some of its members were plotting to murder him.

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