Regional leaders are visiting the West African state of Guinea-Bissau in an effort to defuse the crisis following the assassination of the president.

Soldiers killed Joao Bernardo Vieira on Monday in an apparent tit-for-tat attack after army chief-of-staff Gen Tagme Na Waie was blown up.

West African regional group Ecowas is due to hold an emergency summit about the crisis in the capital, Bissau.

The city reportedly remains calm in the aftermath of the double assassination.

The British consul in Bissau, Jan van Maanen, told the BBC’s Network Africa programme the capital was deserted.

“There’s no traffic, there’s nobody on the street at all actually,” he said. “There’s no military on the streets, there’s no check-points.”

In a bizarre twist, it has emerged British novelist Frederick Forsyth was in Guinea-Bissau as the president was assassinated. He described the drama, which could have leapt straight from the pages of one of his thrillers.

The Day of the Jackal author told the BBC’s World Today programme he had heard that soldiers first threw a bomb through the president’s villa and the blast caused the roof to collapse.

Mr Vieira had emerged alive from the rubble and was shot by his assailants but still did not die, said the writer, who was in the country to research a new book.

The soldiers then took the wounded president to his mother-in-law’s house where they “chopped him to bits” with machetes, according to Forsyth.

Hours earlier a bomb had killed the army chief at his headquarters. The device was reportedly hidden underneath the staircase leading to Gen Waie’s office.

Guinea-Bissau – a major transit point for Latin American cocaine headed for Europe – has been plagued by coups and political unrest since independence from Portugal in 1974.

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council met on Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss their response to the crisis.



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