Guinea-Bissau president urges 'return to duties' after putsch attempt

On Tuesday, heavily armed men attacked government buildings in the capital Bissau where Embalo was believed to be attending a cabinet meeting.

In this file photo taken on 15 October 2021 Guinea-Bissau's President Umaro Sissoco Embalo is seen prior to his meeting with the French president at the Elysee palace in Paris. Picture: Ludovic MARIN/AFP

BISSAU - Bissau-Guinean President Umaro Sissoco Embalo urged people to "return to their duties" on Thursday, two days after an attempted coup claimed 11 lives in the unstable West African country.

On Tuesday, heavily armed men attacked government buildings in the capital Bissau where Embalo was believed to be attending a cabinet meeting.

Embalo, 49, later told reporters that he had been unharmed during a five-hour gun battle, which he described as a plot to wipe out the government.

Eleven people, including four civilians, were killed, according to a government spokesman.

On Thursday, Embalo visited the complex where the attack occurred, according to an AFP reporter.

Blood still stained the walls, which were also pockmarked by bullet holes. Two destroyed 4x4s also lay behind the building.

"Everyone should return to their duties, as calm has returned," Embalo said during the visit.

"Let the defence and security forces continue their task of ensuring the territorial integrity and defence of the republic," he added.

Guinea-Bissau's army has launched a major probe into the attempted coup.

The coastal state of around two million people is notoriously unstable, having suffered four military coups since independence from Portugal in 1974, its most recent in 2012.

In 2014, Guinea-Bissau vowed to return to democracy, but it has enjoyed little stability since and the armed forces wield substantial clout.

The identity and motives of the attackers behind Tuesday's events remain unclear.