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Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 17:29 UK

Madagascar protests spark clashes

Burning lorry, Antananarivo
Lorries and shops were torched by demonstrators

There have been violent clashes in Madagascar's capital after security forces attempted to enforce a ban on public protests.

Shots have been fired and at least 36 people have been injured.

Security forces clashed with supporters of ousted President Mark Ravalomanana when they blocked a park where daily protests have been held.

Mr Ravalomanana was forced from power in March by the army which backed his rival, Andry Rajoelina.

The BBC's Jonny Hogg in Antananarivo says the trouble has spread across the city.

Turmoil

Protestors barricaded roads before police and military drove them back using tear gas, detonators and live rounds.

Riot police in Antananarivo, Madagascar (28 March 2009)
Protests have been continuing for several weeks in Madagascar

In one part of the city, a lorry and shops were torched by demonstrators and elsewhere the cobblestones of a narrow street were stained with blood where, according to witnesses, a young man was shot.

The authorities banned public gathering on Tuesday, a day after two people died and 13 were wounded in clashes between supporters of Mr Ravalomanana and the security forces.

The country has been in turmoil since the beginning of the year.

Mr Ravalomanana was forced to flee the country after being overthrown by Mr Rajoelina, former mayor of the capital, who was backed by sections of the army.

Since then, supporters of the ousted leader have held almost daily protests.

Mr Rajoelina has said he intends to hold presidential elections in October 2010 and has issued a warrant for Mr Ravalomanana's arrest.

He in turn has said he plans to return to the country in the coming weeks.



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