6 killed in attack on Guinea-Bissau military barracks

Guinea-Bissau soldiers walk along a street after gunmen raided an army barracks in the capital Bissau on October 21, 2012.

Story highlights

  • Two attackers are captured and others remain at large, authorities say
  • The transitional government blames forces loyal to the former prime minister
  • Military commanders ousted the previous government in April
  • Coup and coup attempts have taken place repeatedly in Guinea-Bissau

The transitional government of Guinea-Bissau said its forces killed six people amid an attack on the barracks of an elite military unit near the capital's airport.

The transitional authorities, which took power in the West African nation after military commanders overthrew the previous government in April, said they believed the attempt to seize control of the barracks on Saturday night was led by people loyal to the former prime minister Carlos Gomes Jr.

The government said the assault was a "premeditated action aiming at destabilizing the legal order and whose main aim is to create a political situation where an international force in Guinea-Bissau could be justified."

Six attackers were killed in the fighting at the Para-Commando barracks, two were captured and an unspecified number remain at large, the government said. It added that one government soldier was wounded.

Gomes Jr. and the former interim president Raimundo Pereira fled to Portugal after the generals ousted them in April on accusations they had agreed a "secret deal" to let Angolan troops into the country to attack the military.

The coup prompted international condemnation and calls for a return to civilian rule by the African Union, the United Nations and Western powers.

Guinea-Bissau suspended from African Union

The regional Economic Community of West African States brokered a deal to set up the current transitional government, which has until May to organize presidential and legislative elections.

The regional body agreed to deploy about 600 peacekeeping troops in Guinea-Bissau to monitor the transition and replace the Angolan soldiers that were in the country. Angola had said its military personnel were there to help reform the Guinea-Bissau armed and security forces.

Coups and coup attempts have taken place repeatedly in Guinea-Bissau since it won independence from Portugal in 1974. To date, no democratically elected president of the country has served a full five-year term.

Pereira became interim president after the January death of incumbent Malam Bacai Sanha after a long illness. Sanha had become president in September 2009 after the assassination of his predecessor, Joao Bernardo Vieira.

Guinea-Bissau is a small coastal nation of about 1.6 million people sandwiched between Senegal and Guinea.

TIME: Guinea-Bissau: How cocaine transformed a tiny nation

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