Guinea-Bissau troops staged a coup attempt late Thursday, attacking the prime minister’s residence, arresting politicians and taking over the ruling party headquarters amid a media blackout.
Gunshots and rocket-propelled grenades were fired in the darkened streets of the capital of the putsch-prone former Portuguese colony, which is in the middle of a bitterly disputed two-round presidential election.
Soldiers attacked the residence of the winner of the first round, outgoing Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, whose whereabouts were unknown.
“It was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and we were forced to retreat,” said a police officer who had guarded the building. He said Gomes had been there earlier but could not give his current location.
“There was a panic and a riposte from our colleagues. He (Gomes) attempted to get out amid the confusion. I don’t know what happened after that because I too looked to get out of there,” he added.
A military source told AFP: “We are actively seeking Carlos Gomes Junior. Regardless of where he is hiding, we will track him down before dawn.”
The sound of gunshots could be heard for around an hour, centred around the prime minister’s residence, before relative calm returned to the capital.