Presidential candidate shot dead in Guinea-Bissau

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BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau – Armed men wearing military uniforms burst into the home of a candidate in Guinea-Bissau’s upcoming presidential election and shot him to death, officials and family said Friday.

The West African country‘s intelligence service issued a statement saying Baciro Dabo may have been involved in a coup being plotted by former defense minister Helder Proenca, who was also shot dead Friday. Dabo’s officials could not immediately be reached to comment on the allegation.

Dabo was sleeping next to his wife at around 4 a.m. Friday when the men broke into his residence and opened fire, killing him instantly, said his chief of staff, Lamine Diata.

Campaigning for the June 28 election was due to begin Saturday, and Dabo had resigned his post as territorial administration minister in mid-May and quit the ruling party to run as an independent in the vote. He was one of 13 candidates, but was not considered to have any chance of victory.

The special vote was organized after the West African country’s president, Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira, was assassinated March 2, just hours after his longtime rival, the head of the armed forces, was killed by a bomb.

Dabo was considered close to Vieira and previously served as his interior minister.

A statement issued by Guinea-Bissau’s intelligence service said the assassination may have been linked to a failed coup plot it said was being organized by Proenca.

Portugal‘s state news agency Lusa reported that Proenca was shot to death on a road between the northern town of Bula and the capital Bissau. It cited an unidentified source at Bissau’s Simao Mendes hospital as saying Proenca was taken to the morgue there early Friday.

Proenca’s driver and a security guard also were killed, Lusa said.

Bissau was calm and there were no other reports of violence in the city on Friday.

A former Portuguese colony, Guinea-Bissau has a long history of instability with numerous coups and attempted coups, most of which were led by the army.

Lusa said Dabo was survived by his wife and three children; he was a singer and former journalist.

Ruling-party candidate Malam Bacai Sanha is believed to have the strongest chance of winning the vote.

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