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24.11.2008 Africa

Guinea-Bissau Leader's Home Under Fire

By Daily Guide

A gun attack on the presidential home in Guinea-Bissau has left one person dead and several injured, hours after election results were announced. The UN envoy to the country confirmed President Joao Bernardo Vieira was unharmed in the overnight attack, in which soldiers shot at the building.

The African Union warned against any "attempt to seize power by force" in a country with a recent history of coups.

The former ruling party won the parliamentary poll by a large margin.

BBC West Africa correspondent Will Ross says the attack appears to have been a failed coup attempt.

The city was reported to be calm again on Sunday morning.

'They're shooting'

Describing the situation as "very serious", the United Nations representative in Guinea-Bissau, Shola Omeregie, confirmed there had been a military attack on the president's home.

After visiting the president's bullet-scarred home, he said Mr Vieira and his family were okay.

Guinea-Bissau's interior ministry said one of the people who had shot at the presidential residence was killed while several guards loyal to the president had been injured.

Witnesses told Reuters news agency of two deaths during the gun battle in the town's Tchon de Pepel district.

President Vieira phoned his Senegalese counterpart, Abdoulaye Wade, to say he was under fire in his residence.

President Wade told French radio:

"I received a telephone call from President Nino Vieira who told me that there were soldiers at the front of his residence who were firing shots and I asked him to be precise," he said.

"He told me that the soldiers were firing at his home."

Mr Wade added that he had raised the issue with the West African regional body Ecowas and the African Union (AU).

AU spokesman El-Ghassim Wane told French radio that the body was "very concerned about the situation", stressing that it rejected "all unlawful change of government".

Fraud accusations

According to the National Electoral Commission, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) won 67 of the 100 National Assembly seats.

The party allied to the president, the Republican Party for Independence and Development (PRID), won just three seats in the ballot, which was held last weekend.

The leader of the party which officially finished second with 28 seats contested the result.

Koumba Yala, leader of the Social Renewal Party (PRS) and himself a former president of Guinea-Bissau, said he would "never accept fabricated results".

His party has strong support in the military, our correspondent notes.

In recent years, the former Portuguese colony became a major transit point for South American cocaine headed for Europe.

The international community has been worried that without effective political leadership it is in danger of becoming a narco-state with drug barons holding more power than the politicians and the rule of law, our correspondent says.