Page last updated at 08:14 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 09:14 UK

Bissau drugs probe death threats

Guinea-Bissau navy officer
The navy is ill-equipped to cover all of Guinea-Bissau's islands

Guinea-Bissau's attorney general says he has received death threats over his investigations into a big drugs haul.

Luis Manuel Cabral told the AFP news agency that senior politicians and military figures did not want the investigation to proceed.

Up to 500kg of cocaine was reportedly found on board two planes which recently arrived from Venezuela.

West Africa has become a key transit point for South American cocaine destined for Europe.

The United Nations estimates that at least 50 tonnes of cocaine are shipped through the West African region every year.

The UN warns that drug traffickers are rotting the fragile states of West Africa by corrupting politicians and law-enforcement agencies.

BBC West Africa correspondent Will Ross says the comments from Guinea Bissau's attorney general seem to back up this warning.

"We are facing a total obstruction, with death threats... to try and stop the investigation from going forward," Mr Cabral told AFP.


"There are some people among high-ranking figures in politics, the army and the security forces who do not want this investigation to be held."

Five people, including three Venezuelan nationals, have been arrested.

There have been some reports that the planes were carrying medicines and not cocaine but these were dismissed by Mr Cabral.

Our correspondent says that even if the will was there to fight this drug menace, few West African countries have the means to do it.

They lack the ships or planes to intercept the cocaine smugglers.

There have been warnings for some time that Guinea-Bissau risks being taken over by drug cartels and becoming a "narco-state".

Africa - new front in drugs war
09 Jul 07 |  Africa
New Senegal record cocaine haul
02 Jul 07 |  Africa
Country profile: Guinea-Bissau
25 Jun 08 |  Country profiles

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