Radio journalist attacked in Guinea-Bissau after failed coup

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By Reuters
Radio journalist attacked in Guinea-Bissau after failed coup

By Alberto Dabo

BISSAU – A journalist in Guinea-Bissau was attacked at home by men with AK-47 rifles on Tuesday night, a day after the radio station where he works was ransacked, said a witness and a colleague.

The attacks came a week after an assault on a government compound where President Umaro Sissoco Embalo was leading a cabinet meeting. The government said the raid was a failed coup attempt that could have been linked to drug trafficking.

It is not clear if the incidents involving Radio Capital are linked to the assault on the compound, but they have unnerved people in Guinea-Bissau, where tensions between Embalo and members of his governing coalition have been rising.

Radio Capital is often critical of Embalo’s government and hosts a daily call-in show where people had questioned the official version of the Feb. 1 attack.

Attackers threw tear gas canisters and shot at the home of Radio Capital journalist Rui Landim for about 15 minutes, leaving bullet holes across the facade, his neighbour Felix Malou told Reuters. Landim was not injured.

Malou said the attackers wore the uniforms of state security forces, but Reuters was not able to confirm this. A government spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Souleymane Seydi, a journalist from Radio Capital, confirmed the attack. He said Landim had received anonymous death threats on several occasions.

Radio Capital’s offices were ransacked on Monday, when masked men with AK-47s burst in and destroyed broadcasting equipment. At least one person was injured, according to the station.

The government has provided few details about the Feb. 1 incident that it has said was part of a well-funded and tightly planned plot. It has said the attackers were in civilian clothes and that they had intended to assassinate the president.

Some opposition politicians and activists have questioned whether it was really a coup attempt, speculating that it could have been staged, perhaps to justify a crackdown on the opposition.

The government has insisted it was a coup attempt but declined further comment pending the results of an official investigation.

Guinea-Bissau, a tiny country on the West African coast, has seen around 10 successful or failed coups since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974. It is a transit point for Latin American cocaine headed for Europe, contributing to its instability.