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Opposition Protests Turn Violent in Madagascar

Rioting has broken out in Madagascar, where thousands of opposition demonstrators have looted and burned the state TV station and set other parts of the capital city ablaze.

Opposition leader Andry Rajoelina says at least two people were killed Monday during unrest in the capital, Antananarivo, although the casualty figures have not been confirmed.

He appeared on an independent radio station to appeal for calm. He also asked his supporters to rally in a main city square on Tuesday.

On a different radio broadcast, the country's prime minister, Charles Rabemananjara, said talks are underway between the government and the opposition to try to end the crisis.

President Marc Ravalomanana cut short a visit to South Africa late Sunday and returned home, vowing to restore order. He said the civil disobedience amounts to a coup d'etat.

At a rally earlier today, opposition leader Rajoelina called on the government to resign. He accused the president of growing authoritarianism.

After the rally, protesters blocked streets, demanding a new government and the return of an opposition TV station taken off the air last month.

Witnesses say fires erupted in several parts of the city, and heavy looting was reported. Residents said most radio and TV stations have gone off the air, although it was not clear why.

The unrest emerged after Rajoelina called for a general strike which boosted political tensions to their highest level in years.

The opposition leader is the mayor of the capital city, the same job Mr. Ravalomanana held before he became president in 2002.

The country was torn by political strife in the months before Mr. Ravalomanana took office, after his predecessor refused to leave office following disputed elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.