Page last updated at 02:43 GMT, Friday, 28 March 2008

France flies rebel out of Comoros

Col Mohammed Bacar (right) is transported by a police van in Saint Denis, Reunion. Photo: 28 March 2008
Col Bacar, seen in a police van in Reunion, has asked France for asylum

A French military plane has flown Comoran rebel leader Colonel Mohammed Bacar to the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

Col Bacar fled the island of Anjouan after government troops and an African Union (AU) force invaded on Tuesday.

He escaped to the French-run island of Mayotte and sought asylum there.

The Comoran government and the AU have asked Paris to extradite him to face justice, amid anti-French protests in the Comoran capital, Moroni.

Police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators near the French embassy in the town on Thursday.

Amphibious assault

Col Bacar and a number of men accompanying him were flown to Reunion on a French military C-160 Transall plane.


French officials have said he will be placed under investigation for landing illegally on Mayotte in possession of weapons, reports the AFP news agency.

The operation against Col Bacar was launched after he refused to step down as president of Anjouan, and accept the authority of the federal government after a disputed election in 2007.

About 600 Comoran and AU troops took part in the amphibious assault on Tuesday.

The Comoros archipelago in the Indian Ocean has had a fractious history since independence from France, experiencing more than 20 coups or attempted coups.

The three main islands of the archipelago - Grand Comore, Moheli and Anjouan - lie 300km (186 miles) off Africa's east coast, north of Madagascar.

The island of Mayotte is the only one of the Comoros islands to have opted to remain French when the other islands gained independence in 1975 - but it remains a source of contention with both countries claiming sovereignty.

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Regions and territories: Reunion
15 Jan 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Comoros
26 Mar 08 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Comoros
26 Mar 08 |  Country profiles

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