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Guinea-Bissau’s security forces foiled a coup, the latest attempted takeover in the West African region, where multiple nations have experienced a series of coups in recent years, the BBC reported.
Violent clashes took place in the capital Bissau on Thursday and Friday between members of the National Guard and special forces of the presidential guard, leaving at least two people dead, according to Agence France-Presse.
President Umaro Sissoco Embaló confirmed there was an attempted coup and promised “serious consequences” for the perpetrators.
Military officials said the fighting began when a group of National Guard soldiers stormed a police station to free detained Finance Minister Souleiman Seidi, and Treasury Secretary Antonio Monteiro.
Prosecutors ordered the detention of the two government officials for questioning regarding the alleged, irregular withdrawal of $10 million from state accounts.
The regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (known as ECOWAS), strongly condemned the attempted takeover – the second one in less than two years.
In February 2022, Embaló– who was elected in 2019 – survived a coup attempt that saw 11 people dead. The president, however, did not provide much by way of detail, saying that the violence was related to drug trafficking in the country.
Guinea-Bissau has suffered a series of coups and attempted coups since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974.
The coup attempts come as military leaders have seized power in a number of West African countries in recent years, including Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
Over the weekend, Burkina Faso and Niger withdrew from the G5 Sahel anti-jihadi force, adding to the challenges facing regional efforts against insurgents, AFP wrote separately.
The G5 Sahel, formed in 2014, has experienced limited success, with Mali becoming the first country to leave last year.
Burkina Faso and Niger cited the organization’s failure to meet objectives and criticized what they saw as France’s outsized role in the group. They expressed sovereignty concerns and claimed incompatibility with the current G5 Sahel format.