(AFP) – Jun 5, 2009
BISSAU (AFP) — Guinea-Bissau soldiers killed Friday a presidential candidate and a former minister accused of plotting a coup, just three months after the troubled African nation's president was assassinated.
Territorial administration minister Baciro Dabo, a candidate in the June 28 election, and former defence minister Helder Proenca were considered close to the president Joao Bernardo Vieira, who was killed by the army in March.
The interior ministry said Dabo and Proenca were killed when security forces tried to arrest them over charges that they were among nine coup plotters led by Proenca.
Separately, a hospital source said the body of former prime minister Faustino Fudut Imbali had also been brought in with bullet wounds.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon was "dismayed" by the latest killings and stressed "the importance and urgency of conducting a thorough, credible and transparent investigation into the circumstances," his office said.
Ban "is concerned about the emerging pattern of killings of high-profile personalities in Guinea-Bissau," it said.
"We have information of a coup attempt that would have been carried out by a group of political officials," including Dabo and Proenca, said an interior ministry statement.
According to the interior ministry, the plotters aimed to "physically eliminate" Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior and the acting military chief of staff, naval commander Jose Zamora Induta.
Proenca was killed "in an exchange of gunfire between security men sent to arrest him and members of his personal guard," the ministry said. One of his bodyguards and chauffeur also died.
"It was during an attempted arrest, which Baciro Dabo is reported to have resisted, that he was killed by members of the armed forces who came to arrest him," an official statement said.
One of Dabo's bodyguards, who was injured by the soldiers, told AFP that about 30 troops arrived on two vehicles, beat up the security detail and shot their way into the minister's bedroom, where he was killed.
A medical source said Dabo was shot at point blank range and was hit by three Kalashnikov bullets in the abdomen and one in the head.
As minister for territorial administration, Dabo had been in charge of deciding the boundaries of electoral districts and nominating local governors.
Proenca and Dabo were members of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), once the sole party in the small west African state.
The ministry said they were part of a group of coup plotters called the "high command of republican forces for the restoration of constitutional order and democracy."
Gomes Junior was on a private trip to former colonial ruler Portugal Friday. He told Lusa news agency he was there to get medical treatment and would return to Guinea-Bissau on June 12. He refused to comment on the killings.
In recent years the poor country has achieved notoriety as a transit point for the cocaine trade between South America and Europe, raising the stakes in power feuds between political and military leaders.
Vieira's assassination on March 2 was thought to be a revenge attack a few hours after the chief of army general staff, General Tagme Na Waie, was killed in a bomb blast.
Guinea-Bissau has been wracked by coups and political unrest since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974.
The Organisation of Civil Society, grouping a score of associations, issued a statement calling for "the sending of an international peace force to Guinea-Bissau to guarantee the safety of citizens and democratic institutions."
It urged "calm and moderation by the different political and military players."
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