Madagascar's mutiny leader Koto Mainty 'killed'

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
This is the second failed army mutiny on the Indian Ocean island in two years

The chief army mutineer in Madagascar has been killed in a battle with loyalist troops, the military has said.

A barracks was recaptured from dissident soldiers. The motives for their mutiny were unclear, an army spokesman told the BBC.

Flights to and from the airport in the capital, Antananarivo, were suspended while the gun battles raged.

Madagascar has been unstable since President Andry Rajoelina captured power in 2009 with military backing.

His rival, Marc Ravalomanana, is exiled in South Africa.

This is the second failed army mutiny on the Indian Ocean island in two years.

The defence minister's chief-of-staff, General Raphael Ramasy, said the mutiny was led by Corporal Koto Mainty, who was shot dead after loyalist forces stormed the barracks near the airport in Antananarivo, Reuters news agency reports.

'Mediator killed'

"The situation is under control; the other mutineers gave themselves up or were arrested," he said.

Two other people were also killed in the gun battle - including an officer who had earlier tried to mediate an end to the mutiny, army spokesman Colonel Philibert Ratovonirina told the BBC French service.

He said the mutineers demands were unclear.

"We don't know precisely what the mutineers wanted. It seems there was a statement broadcast on Free FM radio saying that there was no government left, that it had been dissolved and it was no longer in charge of running the country," Col Ratovonirina said.

"But we don't know if that statement was really made by the mutineers. If it did come from the mutineers, it would appear this might be a coup attempt."

Witnesses reported sporadic bursts of gunfire for about four hours on Sunday, and dozens of locals gathered near the base to see what was happening.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
President Andry Rajoelina, a former DJ, is going to the Seychelles for talks with his rival

Police and soldiers surrounded the area and evacuated some buildings as they quelled the mutiny.

The army plays a major role in Madagascar's society, frequently meddling in politics.

It backed Mr Rajoelina's 2009 seizure of power from Mr Ravalomanana.

The two leaders are due to meet in the Seychelles on Wednesday in the latest effort to end the conflict in Madagascar.

"The mutiny could have an impact on the meeting," retired general Desire Philippe Ramakavelo is quoted by Reuters as saying.

"It is taking place amid turmoil."

In 2002, the army had also helped Mr Ravalomanana to seize power in similar fashion when he led street protests against the previous Marxist administration.

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