June 19, 2013
Six killed in failed Guinea-Bissau 'counter-coup'
Six people were killed in a gun battle at an airforce base near Guinea-Bissau's capital early in what diplomatic sources described as an apparent failed counter-coup attempt.
The tiny former Portuguese colony on Africa's west coast is in the midst of a messy recovery after the army overthrew the government in April, derailing elections midstream, and diplomatic and military sources said the violence may have been orchestrated by supporters of the self-exiled former premier.
"It appears to have been a failed counter-coup," one diplomatic source said, asking not to be named.
Military sources said "rebels" had attacked the airforce base in Bra, about 7 kilometers (5 miles) from the capital Bissau at about 3 am but were repelled after two hours of fighting.
"There was an exchange of Kalashnikov fire and then the rebels took refuge in a building near the base," a military source said on condition of anonymity.
He said government soldiers used rocket-propelled grenades on the building before killing several of the attackers. A Reuters witness saw six bodies near the base.
Witnesses said the army had set up checkpoints and was checking vehicles on the main road leaving Bissau, but added that the capital appeared otherwise calm.
The same military source said that some of the attackers appeared to be from an ethnic group, Djolla, common in neighboring Senegal's southern Casamance region.
Decades of turmoil in Guinea-Bissau since it became independent in 1974 have made its maze of mangrove-lined islands a hub for Latin American drugs cartels smuggling cocaine to Europe.