Guinea-Bissau president assassinated by military: official

12:05, 02 March 2009
398 0

Induta added...

Guinea-Bissau soldiers killed President Joao Bernardo Vieira early Monday hours after a bomb attack which claimed the life of the West African country`s military chief, an army spokesman said, according to AFP.

"President Vieira was killed by the army as he tried to flee his house which was being attacked by a group of soldiers close to the chief of staff Tagme Na Waie, early this morning," the military spokesman, Zamora Induta, told AFP.

Induta added that the president was "one of the main people responsible for the death of Tagme."

Vieira was trying to escape when he was "taken down by bullets fired by these soldiers," he said.

Weeks of tensions between the president`s followers and the military leadership had erupted into clashes in the capital on Sunday.

Vieira, 69, had been president on and off for nearly 23 years. He was returned to power in 2005 elections, six years after the end of a civil war that had driven him from office.

"The country will start up now. This man had blocked any momentum in this small country," Induta said.

On Sunday, a bomb attack on the military headquarters killed Tagme, head of the joint chiefs of staff, in Bissau. Rocket explosions and automatic weapons fire were heard in the capital early Monday.

Tagme said in January that he had been targeted in a previous assassination attempt, highlighting the chronic instability of this country, which has become a hub for South American drug traffickers en route to Europe.

"The general was in his office when the bomb went off," his aide, Lieutenant Colonel Bwam Nhamtchio, told AFP by telephone, crying as he spoke.

"He was gravely wounded and did not survive his injuries.

"This is a loss for all of us," he said, adding that five others were hurt in the evening blast -- two of them seriously.

One of the general`s bodyguards said the bomb was placed under the stairway leading to Tagme`s office and the blast -- at around 8 pm (2000 GMT) -- resulted in the collapse of a large part of the main headquarters building, where his office was located.

"It was 7:45 when we arrived at the headquarters building," the bodyguard said by telephone on condition of anonymity.

"The chief of staff headed upstairs. He had just reached the first steps when the bomb was triggered. He was mortally injured."

The killings followed a series of acts of violence committed in the past four months amid deep disagreements between the army, the presidency and the ministry of internal administration.

Guinea-Bissau has experienced a wave of coups, attempted coups and mutinies since its independence from Portugal in 1974.

If you see a spelling error on our site, select it and press Ctrl+Enter