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Weapons cache seized after Bissau 'coup plot'
by Staff Writers
Bissau (AFP) Dec 29, 2011

Guinea Bissau's army on Thursday uncovered a large cache of weapons at the homes of two soldiers arrested for taking part in an attack on army headquarters which the regime has described as a coup bid.

Army chief General Antonio Indjai said he was "staggered" by the quantity of arms found during search operations in the northern suburb of Plack 1, at the homes of the soldiers who admitted to taking part in Monday's attack.

The army seized 30 Kalachnikovs, three rocket-launchers, a machine-gun, six crates of shells, three crates of flamethrowers, eight bulletproof jackets and a variety of ammunition in searches witnessed by AFP.

"I am surprised to see so many weapons which would have been used to destroy our country... I call on government to build secure armories to avoid having thousands of arms circulating outside of appropriate channels of control," Indjai told journalists.

On Monday, Indjai announced that a coup attempt by a group of renegade soldiers who attacked army headquarters had been foiled.

The army said it had arrested controversial navy chief Rear Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto -- whom the United States has branded a drug kingpin -- as the "mastermind" of the coup plot.

Some observers put the mutiny down to a falling out between Indjai and Bubo Na Tchuto.

The two soldiers targeted in the army search were Sergeant Jose Batista Sambe from the navy and Antonio Mario Cabi, a former member of the presidential guard who were both arrested Tuesday.

Sambe told journalists he led a commando unit in Monday's attack which was meant to "seize weapons to overthrow the current leadership of the army".

The two men said they were dissatisfaction with poor salaries and living conditions in the impoverished former Portuguese colony.

Guinea Bissau is notoriously unstable, with a history of coups and army mutinies, and has become a stomping ground for drug cartels which use it as a hub to traffic drugs to Europe.

Two people died on Tuesday in clashes between security forces and alleged mutineers as joint teams of soldiers, police and paramilitary police hunted suspects.

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Rights groups urge Senegal rebels not to harm hostages
Dakar (AFP) Dec 29, 2011 - Senegalese rights bodies on Thursday called on separatist rebels from the troubled Casamance region to respect the rights of five soldiers they captured two weeks ago..

A joint statement urged the Casamance Movement of Democratic Forces (MFDC) to assure the soldiers' "right to life, the right to not suffer torture and mistreatment and to assure them decent living conditions."

The statement was signed by the African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights (RADDHO), the Senegalese branch of Amnesty International and the Senegalese Human Rights League.

These organisations asked the MFDC to allow the Red Cross immediate access to the men to ensure international norms over the treatment of prisoners of war are being followed.

The Senegalese army said Wednesday the men were "in the hands of" the MFDC.

The soldiers were reported missing after MFDC rebels attacked a military position on December 13 in the Casamance, Senegal's tropical south which is home to West Africa's longest-running conflict.

A week after the attack 13 people were killed in fighting between troops and rebels. A month earlier 10 civilians had been killed in a suspected MFDC attack near the regional capital Ziguinchor.

The MFDC has been fighting for independence since 1982 in the region separated from the rest of Senegal by Gambia.

The conflict, which has seen periods of quiet and surges of violence, has not reached the levels of bloodshed of other wars in the region but has nonetheless claimed thousands of lives over the past three decades.

Several peace accords have failed, the MFDC is reportedly riven with divisions and rebels are often implicated in large-scale hijackings and the terrorising of villagers.


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Bissau back to normal after coup scare: AU chief
Bissau (AFP) Dec 28, 2011
African Union chief Jean Ping said Wednesday that normality had returned to Guinea-Bissau two days after the troubled west African state's army chief claimed to have foiled a coup. Ping paid a brief visit to Bissau in the wake of the foiled coup and clashes which followed overnight and Tuesday, saying the situation was "a source of concern" for the African Union. "In light of my differen ... read more

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