On the afternoon of 1 February 2022, heavy gunfire broke out near the Palace of Government in the capital Bissau, where a Cabinet meeting led by President Umaro Cissoko Embalo was underway. Assailants armed with high-powered firearms launched what would turn out to be an approximately five-hour attack on the building. Local media reports indicate that six people were killed in the gunbattle, including four assailants and two security personnel. President Embalo later stated that the gunmen aimed to kill him and members of the Cabinet, but security forces stopped the attackers from entering the meeting venue. Embalo also claimed that the attackers were connected to individuals involved in drug trafficking, without offering further details. Embalo had pledged to combat increasing drug trafficking activity in Guinea-Bissau when he was elected to the presidency in December 2019.
Analyst Comment: The identities of those involved in the attack remain unknown. It does not appear that the assault was a part of the military’s effort to seize power, although the government — as well as the regional blocs African Union and Economic Community of West African States — labeled the event as a coup attempt. President Embalo, a former army general, formed the government in early 2020 with support from the military while the opposition was contesting election results in the Supreme Court. In October 2021, military leaders announced that they had foiled an alleged coup plot by members of the military, although a government spokesperson later denied reports of the plot to overthrow the government.