Rebels and troops clash

ANTANANARIVO - Madagascar's security forces shot at a dissident faction of military police and several hundred anti-government demonstrators protesting yesterday against the country's continued political crisis.

ANTANANARIVO - Madagascar's security forces shot at a dissident faction of military police and several hundred anti-government demonstrators protesting yesterday against the country's continued political crisis.

A Reuters witness said the military police, who have set up barricades leading to their camp in the capital Antananarivo, returned fire.

"We have treated three people with bullet wounds. They are all civilians," Claude Rakotodranja, president of the Madagascar Red Cross, told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear if there were any other casualties nor how many troops were behind the demonstration.

"The truth will never die and we are prepared to go all the way and take hold of our responsibilities," Colonel Raymond Andrianjafy, the leader of rebelling troops from the National Gendarmes Intervention Force (FIGN), told reporters late on Wednesday.

Political turmoil has rocked the Indian Ocean island for more than a year after President Andry Rajoelina grabbed power in a military-backed coup, hurting foreign investment and dramatically slowing economic growth.

Some elements of the military have been angered by Rajoelina's failure to restore constitutional order on the island, while African Union sanctions have humiliated many.

The FIGN's commander, General Viennot Zafera, described the dissidents' action as a coup.

Former lawmakers from ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana's political party were seen at the protest site. - Reuters

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