Rebels threaten to use tanks in Madagascar

Antananarivo: Dissident soldiers have threatened to use the tanks they have deployed in Madagascar's capital to fight any mercenaries hired by the government in a power struggle that has killed 135 people on the Indian Ocean island.

The troops say they want to bring order to the poverty-stricken country that is torn by a stand-off between the President, Marc Ravalomanana, and the opposition leader, Andry Rajoelina. The President urged city residents to organise themselves to repel the mutineers and defend the presidential palace but the US ambassador said a coup was unlikely. It is unclear who controls the government or military. Many in opposition fear the President will bring in foreign mercenaries to defend his hold on power but his office denies he has done so. The dissident soldiers deny that they are taking orders from Mr Rajoelina, who has been under UN protection since foiling attempts to arrest him last week. Reuters