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Soldiers attack Guinea-Bissau leader's home

Mutinous soldiers have attacked the home of the president, Joao Bernardo 'Nino' Vieira, killing at least two people.

BISSAU // Mutinous soldiers in Guinea-Bissau attacked the home of the president, Joao Bernardo 'Nino' Vieira, early today just over a day after parliamentary election results were announced. But after an overnight gun battle lasting several hours around Mr Vieira's home in the capital's Tchon de Pepel district, the bid to overthrow or kill Mr Vieira appeared to have failed. At least two people were reported killed.

The capital Bissau was reported quiet today. The African Union expressed its concern over the violence, which followed the announcement on Friday that Guinea-Bissau's former ruling PAIGC party had won a clear parliamentary majority in polls held in the former Portuguese colony on Nov 16. The Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade said he had received an overnight phone call from Mr Vieira saying that soldiers had opened fire in front of his house. "He told me that the soldiers were firing at his house," Mr Wade said.

Mr Wade said he sent Senegalese troops to the border with Guinea-Bissau and had prepared a plane to evacuate Mr Vieira and his family, but Mr Vieira had not wanted to leave. The Senegalese leader appealed to the mutinous Guinea-Bissau troops to return to their barracks. On Friday, Guinea-Bissau's national electoral commission announced that the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) had won 67 of 100 National Assembly seats in the polls a week ago.

But opposition leader Koumba Yala, a former president overthrown in a 2003 coup who has accused Mr Vieira of involvement in drug-trafficking, dismissed the results as rigged. Mr Yala heads of the Social Renewal Party (PRS) which draws its strength from the Balante ethnic group and is backed by military chiefs. It gained 28 seats in the Nov 16 poll, making it the second strongest party after the PAIGC.

*Reuters