Guinea-Bissau gunmen raid opposition HQ


Masked gunmen raided the headquarters of Guinea-Bissau’s former ruling party on Saturday, two party members said, weeks after a failed coup attempt in the West African country.

The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which led Guinea-Bissau to independence from Portugal in 1974, still contests the 2019 election of President Umaro Sissoco Embalo.

Sabado de Pina, a PAIGC member, said masked gunmen arrived at party headquarters in the capital Bissau on Saturday and “sowed panic by beating the security guards”.

“Then they damaged the main door before breaking into our headquarters where they systematically searched,” she told AFP.

De Pina suggested that the gunmen were members of the security services. Fatima Martins, another party member, gave a similar account.

However, the identity of the assailants is unclear. AFP was unable to reach the defence ministry for comment.

The raid comes after a failed coup attempt on February 1 in Guinea-Bissau, a notoriously unstable nation of around two million people.

That day, heavily armed men attacked government buildings in Bissau while the president was chairing a cabinet meeting. Eleven people were killed in the attack.

Embalo later said he had escaped the five-hour gun battle and described the attack as a plot to wipe out the government.

He has named a former head of the navy, as well as two other men, as being behind the coup attempt.

On Tuesday, ex-prime minister and PAIGC leader Domingos Simoes Pereira was also banned from leaving the country in connection with an investigation into an alleged 2021 putsch attempt.

Pereira lost the 2019 election to Embalo, but bitterly contested the result.

Embalo declared himself president without waiting for the outcome of the former prime minister’s petition to the Supreme Court.

The 49-year-old president sacked the head of the navy on Friday, as well as a top army commander, for reasons that remain unclear.

Guinea-Bissau, an impoverished country south of Senegal, has suffered four military coups since 1974, its most recent in 2012.