Attackers blow up part of Bissau armed forces HQ

BISSAU, (Reuters) – Attackers armed with  rocket-propelled grenades attacked the headquarters of  Guinea-Bissau’s armed forces yesterday, destroying part of the  building, witnesses said.

A Reuters witness who heard the boom of weapons went to the  site and saw part of the armed forces headquarters had  collapsed.
Army troops encircled the area and were searching for the  assailants, whose identity was unclear. Five wounded people were  taken to hospital, the Reuters witness said.

The impoverished former Portuguese colony has a history of  coups and civil conflict.

Military officers ordered two private radio stations in the  capital Bissau to cease broadcasting and state television also  appeared to have stopped broadcasting.
“For the security of the journalists, you must close the  radio station and stop broadcasting. It’s for your own safety,”  armed forces spokesman Samuel Fernandes told reporters at Radio  Bombolom, a private station in Bissau.

“We are going to pursue the attackers and avenge ourselves,”  he said.
Two diplomats in Bissau said they heard a loud explosion  coming from the military headquarters, but had no details.

In early January, the armed forces command said militiamen  hired to protect President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira had shot  at the armed forces chief of staff, General Batista Tagme Na  Wai, who had been critical of Vieira.

A member of the militia denied the shooting had been an  assassination attempt, but the armed forces command nevertheless  ordered the militia be disbanded.

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