Guinea-Bissau president killed: Reports (Lead)

March 2nd, 2009 - 5:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Lisbon/Nairobi, March 2 (DPA) Guinea-Bissau President Bernardo “Nino” Vieira was shot dead in the capital Bissau, the assassination coming on the heels of the killing Sunday evening of army chief Batista Tagme Na Wai, media reports said Monday.
In Lisbon, the Portuguese agency Lusa cited a witness as saying he had seen Vieira’s body after his residence was attacked in the wake of the killing of Wai in the violence in the West African country.

According to French radio RFI, Vieira was killed by a group of military personnel who had been close to Wai.

Vieira was killed by soldiers who regarded him as being responsible for the killing of Wai in Sunday evening’s attack, army spokesman Zamora Induta was quoted by the Portuguese daily Publico as saying.

Induta said soldiers shot the 69-year-old president as he was trying to escape.

Major damage and widespread looting were reported at the presidential palace. A press spokesman was reported injured.

The reasons behind the attack remain unclear. Guinea Bissau, one of the world’s poorest countries, has a history of coups, and also serves as a main 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 plotted to murder him.

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