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Coup thwarted in Guinea-Bissau

A top military official attempted unsuccessfully to seize power in Guinea-Bissau on Monday, an army official said, while the ill leader of the tiny, coup-prone West African country is believed to be undergoing medical treatment abroad.

Army chief Antonio Indjai said authorities had arrested navy chief Natchuto Bubo. Top officials met to discuss the situation on Monday evening.

"There was an attempted coup d'etat but the situation is under the control of the army and government," Mr Indjai said, giving no further details.

Politician Lucio Rodrigues said the event seemed to have little effect.

"Life is continuing much as you would expect for a day after Christmas," he said. "Cars are circulating, there are people on the street, the attempt hasn't had much of an effect on the population."

Mr Rodrigues added that Mr Indjai made a brief statement saying only that in the early hours of Monday "an attempt was made to reverse the constitutional order" but that "the situation is now under control".

The reported coup attempt comes as President Malam Bacai Sanha has recently sought medical treatment in France. The leader was elected in 2009 following the assassination of Guinea-Bissau's previous leader.

Mr Sanha's health has been the subject of intense speculation and he is known to suffer from diabetes. He has been in hospital for long stretches in Senegal and France with the government always describing the visits as routine.

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