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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 04:52 GMT
Ex-soldiers occupy Aristide home
Former soldier Sgt Remissainthe Ravix, centre, in Aristide's abandoned house in Tabarre, Port-au-Prince on Wednesday
The ex-soldiers claimed the abandoned and ransacked home
A group of former soldiers who helped overthrow the Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide earlier this year have taken over his abandoned home.

One of the group's leaders, Remissainthe Ravix, said they would make the building their headquarters in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

But the government condemned the occupation, saying it was working with the UN to find a solution.

Dozens of people are reported to have died in fighting since early September.

Help offered

The group say they want to help deal with violence in the city - blamed on supporters of the exiled Mr Aristide.

UN peacekeepers patrol the Cite Soleil district in Haiti
Shots were fired as UN troops moved into Cite Soleil on Tuesday
Between 50 and 100 men were said to have occupied the house, which has been repeatedly ransacked since Mr Aristide left Haiti on 29 February.

Mr Ravix said they had been granted permission to move into the house by the mayor of the local district, called Tabarre, AP news agency reported.

They say the Haitian police have proved incapable of dealing with a tide of violence that has swept through the country over the last three months, and can help.

But UN spokesman Damian Onses-Cardona said that the move was "uncomfortable", as would be the solution to the situation.

Seaside slum

Rights groups have expressed concern that irregular armed groups - along with police and pro-Aristide militias - are carrying out human rights abuses with impunity.

Meanwhile, AP said a few dozen men were protesting in Cite Soleil, a seaside slum in Port-au-Prince.

However, other reports suggested the district was for the most part calm.

Cite Soleil - one of the most violent parts of the capital - was the focus of a large operation by UN peacekeepers on Tuesday.

A Haitian police chief, Leon Charles, said there had been a number of deaths and arrests, but gave no more details.


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