LISBON – A disgruntled soldier is suspected of gunning down eight other soldiers and three civilians Tuesday at a military barracks in Cape Verde, the West African country’s government said.
The suspected soldier is missing but there are “strong indications” he was behind the slayings, the former Portuguese colony’s government said in a statement on its website.
The statement said “personal motives” inspired the attack, ruling out an attempted coup or any connection with violence associated with drug trafficking that has recently plagued the archipelago.
“People are advised to remain calm and serene,” the statement said.
However, it also said officials had seized nine weapons and ammunition. It didn’t elaborate on that find, nor did it say how it might be connected to the killings.
The three civilians killed included two Spanish technicians on assignment in Cape Verde, according to the government. The dead were all men aged between 20 and 51.
It said authorities are investigating what happened at the barracks that housed soldiers protecting a hilltop communications hub where the Spaniards and a Cape Verdean were reportedly working on repairs.
The government placed security forces on red alert at the international airport in Praia, the capital, and at the island’s ports after the attack, the online service of newspaper Expresso das Ilhas said.
A policeman came across the bodies around midday, Cape Verde Television said.
The Cape Verde archipelago, some 600 km (370 miles) off Senegal, is made up of 10 islands. Around 500,000 people live there.
Authorities in Cape Verde, which is classified as a developing nation, have received praise and financial aid from international bodies for their commitment to democracy and economic development.
However, the country has recently been fighting international drug rings attempting to smuggle cocaine into the country. Police last week seized 280 kg (600 pounds) of cocaine from a yacht, and officials have linked two recent armed attacks against public figures to that battle.
A new government took office last Friday after winning a March election and vowed zero tolerance in the fight against crime.