Gunfire erupted in Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau, on Thursday night and early Friday morning as national guard soldiers clashed with members of the presidential guard special forces. However, the army reports that it has detained the leader of the security forces unit involved, Colonel Victor Tchongo, asserting that the situation is now under control.
The clashes initiated after national guard soldiers liberated two government officials, Economy and Finance Minister Souleiman Seidi and Secretary of State for the Treasury Antonio Monteiro, who had been questioned by police on Thursday. Allegedly, the police inquiry concerned a withdrawal of $10 million from state coffers, a matter raised by lawmakers during a National Assembly session on Monday.
National guard members transported Seidi and Monteiro to an undisclosed location on Thursday night before taking refuge in the barracks in the southern Santa Luzia district. Security forces cordoned off access to the southern neighborhoods, leading residents to flee north.
Despite unsuccessful mediation attempts, special forces intervened and engaged in gunfire with the national guard. Eventually, the situation was brought under control. President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, attending the United Nations Climate Conference in Dubai, has not yet commented on the crisis.
Guinea-Bissau, marked by political instability since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974, has witnessed multiple coups and attempted coups. In September, Embalo appointed two generals to lead presidential security and the army.
This incident occurs amid a surge in coups and attempted coups in West Africa, including in Gabon, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.