Troops loyal to the Portuguese Government converged on Lisbon early on Wednesday morning (26 November) to counter a leftist-led military rebellion which caused the deaths of at least four soldiers.
SVs (NIGHT SCENES) Street fighting and communist being carried away wounded (2 shots)
GV Tanks and armoured cars rolling through streets (2 shots)
SV Armoured vehicles and troops in street (2 shots)
GV Civilians running along alley
GV Military ambulance through street
SVs Military police surrounded in barracks (2 shots)
SV Troop cordons around palace (3 shots)
GV Air force jets TILT DOWN TO troops sitting on tank
SCU ZOOM OUT TO GV Air force base
SV Commando officer outside base
GV More tanks arriving in Lisbon (5 shots)
Loyalist troops converged on Lisbon in the early hours of Wednesday morning to counter an attempted coup against the Government by leftist-led forces. NBC's Garrick Utley takes up the story.
"This incident last night left one Communist party supporter wounded, shot by troops supporting the Government which was fighting for its life. Early this morning Portugal's leaders finally got tough. They sent tanks and armoured cars filled with commandos to the Presidential Palace, Lisbon to confront military police nearby supporting the leftists. After months of anarchy in the army, it finally came to shooting. The showdown didn't last long and reportedly left at least four soldiers dead. The military police gave up their weapons and were kept in their barracks. It was a crucial showdown and the Communists lost. The area around the Presidential Palace was sealed off as Government leaders met inside and continued their drive to restore their authority. They were supported by the air force which sent jets low across the city. And at this air force base which leftist troops had also seized, there was little resistance today when commandos arrived to re-take it. Today the Government brought in more tanks from outside Lisbon to support its move against the Communists. Tonight the city is under curfew and marshal law. In Portugal, the struggle for power may not be over, but today the Government showed it could act. Garrick Utley, NBC News."
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Background: Troops loyal to the Portuguese Government converged on Lisbon early on Wednesday morning (26 November) to counter a leftist-led military rebellion which caused the deaths of at least four soldiers.
Troops were drafted from the northern city of Opporto and the outskirts of Lisbon after fighting erupted late on Tuesday night.
Commandos supporting the centre-left government of President Francisco Da Costa Gomes stormed the barracks of the military police regiment, arrested several officers and forced 1,000 men inside to surrender.
The powerful COPCON internal security council, formed last July to protect the armed forces movement, which controlled the military police and other fighting units has now been disbanded by President Gomes.
Rebel paratroopers were flushed out of three air bases and two air force command centres and a ring of loyalist tank units surrounded the last remaining leftist stronghold -- the Montijo air base.
About 1,000 civilians had massed outside the Lisbon Light Artillery Regiment Base and another 3,000 had ringed an infantry barracks in the left stronghold of Setubal clamouring for arms to use against the "reactionaries".
Portugal's latest crisis was precipitated by the Government's decision to "go on strike" last week in protest against a lack of military support in the face of growing leftist unrest, especially in the capital.
Lisbon is now under martial law and a strict curfew is in force.
President Gomes said he regarded the mutinies by the military police and the paratroopers as an attempted coup against the Government.