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African Union chief arrives after coup scare

BISSAU | The African Union’s top executive arrived in Guinea-Bissau for talks Wednesday and said he was concerned two days after the troubled West African state’s army chief claimed to have foiled a coup.

“The events that occurred in your country have prompted me to seek meetings with the authorities to review the situation,” AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping told reporters at the airport here.

“The situation is a source of concern for the African Union. That is why I am here, to help the country return to stability,” he said, urging the country’s leaders, military and population to work for peace.

Mr. Ping is expected to hold talks with Speaker Raimundo Pereira, who is the interim head of state in the absence of President Malam Bacai Sanha, who is undergoing medical care in France.

Mr. Ping also is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr.

On Monday, Guinea-Bissau’s army chief, Antonio Indjai, said loyalist forces had thwarted a coup attempt masterminded by the country’s navy chief, who is now under arrest.

One soldier was killed the next night as soldiers combed the seaside capital for suspected conspirators, and a police commander wanted in the alleged rebellion subsequently was fatally shot.

Since independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau’s history has been studded with coups, mutinies and political murders. The small state also has become a drug-trafficking hub, mostly for cocaine from South America to Europe.