Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Rioters set fire to Madagascar TV

Protesters outside state TV - photo by Tom Lewis
Tens of thousands of people took part in the protest

Anti-government protesters in Madagascar have looted and set fire to the offices of the state broadcaster in the capital Antananarivo.

The building was attacked during a demonstration by supporters of the city's mayor and opposition leader, Andry Rajoelina.

His own television and radio stations have been shut down by the government.

The police had banned the protests and President Marc Ravalomanana says the opposition is trying to stage a coup.

Earlier on Monday, tens of thousands of people had gathered in the capital to hear a speech by Mr Rajoelina.

Crowds then moved to the state broadcaster's offices, where soldiers briefly tried to defend the building before dispersing in apparent sympathy with the protesters, a witness told the BBC.

Looters were seen coming out of the offices, cheering and smashing equipment on the ground. Some made off with chairs, desks and door frames.

The protests have led President Ravalomanana to cut short a trip to South Africa.

Mr Rajoelina's TV network Viva was closed last month, after broadcasting an interview with Mr Ravalomanana's foe, former President Didier Ratsiraka, AFP news agency reports.

The BBC's Christina Corbett in Antananarivo says the protests have left people afraid of a return to the kind of political deadlock that followed Mr Ravalomanana's election in 2001.

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Reuters Madagascar opposition rallies, deaths mount - 50 mins ago
CNN Madagascar hit by violence - 1 hr ago
Washington Post Madagascar opposition protests, death toll climbs - 2 hrs ago
Boston Globe Death toll nears 40 from Madagascar unrest - 2 hrs ago
UPI Madagascar protests turn violent - 8 hrs ago

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