Potential Hot Spots: December 21, 2001


And yet another mercenary attack in the Comoros. On December 19 a small group of soldiers landed on the island of Moheli. According to Comoroan government reports the soldiers identified themselves as US Special Forces troops who were looking for terrorists. Initial reports put the attacking force at 100-strong. They landed on Moheli at dawn and took control of local gendarme offices and posts. Reports on December 20 said, however, that the force consisted of only 13 armed men. On December 19, five of the attackers were killed (either by local inhabitants or the Comoran Army) and three were captured. These eight men were later identified as French nationals. One of the men is from the French Antilles. Another is described as being of Romanian origin and served in the French Foreign Legion. Another two men (who had fled in an inflatable dingy) were later captured. One of the captured dingy escapees was later shot while trying to escape. The dingy escapee who remains alive is now thought to be a French national. The mercenaries were primarily defeated by thirty government troops flew into Moheli on a commercial jet. Various AFP reports say that Comoran Prime Minister Hamada Madi Bolero has made several statements on the national radio. In one statement Bolera said the attackers were under orders from "former Comoran ministers and former military officials." Bolero asserted the mercenaries intended to take control of the main island of Grande Comore. Bolero is quoted as calling the mercenaries "gullible idiots." On December 20 another mercenary was arrested. A late report said that on December 19 a Comoran Army colonel, Col. Hassan Harouna, had been arrested on suspicion of ties to the plot. (Austin Bay)


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