Soldiers have taken control of much of the capital of the Guinea-Bissau in what appears to be a coup attempt. Heavy gunfire was been heard in the city of Bissau and the residence of outgoing President Carlos Gomes was reportedly attacked. The emergency vote was called after the death in January of President Malam Bacai Sanha, after a long illness. Guinea-Bissau, an impoverished former Portuguese colony, has been plagued by a long series of coups since gaining independence in 1974. It has recently become an important staging post for gangs smuggling drugs from Latin America to Europe.