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Guinea-Bissau Assassinations, Aftermath Spotlighted by VOA

VOA is providing on-the-ground reports of the assassinations in the West African country country

Washington, D.C., March 2, 2009 – The Voice of America (VOA) is providing on-the-ground reports today from Guinea-Bissau, the impoverished West African country where the president and the head of the joint chiefs of staff were assassinated.

Defense Minister Artur Silva, in an interview with VOA’s Portuguese Service ( early today, confirmed the attacks that left both President Joao Bernardo Vieira and General Batiste Tagme na Waie dead in Bissau, the capital of one of the five poorest countries in the world. The two men were rivals.

Officials said a bomb blast at military headquarters killed Waie. Later soldiers assassinated Vieira, who first came to power in a coup in 1980. He was forced out after 19 years, but returned to win the 2005 presidential elections.

A VOA stringer in Bissau gave accounts of the killings along with the aftermath in which military officials said there was no coup attempt. The capital is reported to be calm.

U.S. officials have long been concerned with drug shipments passing through Guinea-Bissau en route to Europe.

VOA’s Portuguese to Africa Service broadcasts 14 hours a week by shortwave, FM and AM to Guinea -Bissau, Sao Tome, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Angola.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail