Potential Hot Spots: June 24, 2002

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Pro-Ravalomanana (RAV) forces have taken complete control of the island of Nosy Be. Several sources reported that a small pro-Ratsiraka (RAT) force either surrendered or scattered after RAV troops took over the airport. The Madagascan capital, Antananrarivo, reported several power outages. RAT saboteurs blew up several electricity pylons near a hydro-electric plant 150 kms east of the city.

As reported earlier, on June 19 a private jet (later identified as a Falcon 900) stopped in the Dar es Salaam, Tanzania airport. Tanzanian officials boarded the plane and discovered twelve French mercenaries, headed for Madagascar. Several sources indicated that the mercenaries had been hired by pro-Ratsiraka factions. However, a Ratsiraka spokesman said (from Paris) that the dozen men were (get this)"personnel specialized in security training for public events." On June 20 the Ravalomanana (RAV) government said that it will pursue legal measures against the twelve French mercenaries. The RAV government statement once again asserted that the mercenaries were hired by Ratisiraka. The private jet, meanwhile, returned from Tanzania to France on June 20. A French source reported the mercenaries left the Lyons Airport after a routine identity check.

One pro-Ratsiraka soldier was reported killed and two civilians were wounded as RAV forces fought a short battle with RAT forces in the town of Ambanja on June 17, 2002. The RAV column, which had been in the city of Antsohihy, was reported heading for the northern port of Antsiranana. Another pro-RAV columns reportedly reached the town Toliara (south island). Other sources confirmed that six pro-RAV soldiers had been slain on the island of Nosy Be and their bodies mutilated. 

More reports indicate that significant looting and violence against civilians took place on June 15 as pro-RAV forces through RAT troops out of the port city of Mahajanga. Some of the violence occurred before a pro-RAV military column reached the city as the pro-RAT militia tangled with Ravalomanana supporters. However, payback came quickly as pro-RAV civilians began looting stores owned by Ratsiraka supporters. The pro-RAV forces stopped the looting.


 

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