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Togo's Capital Under Siege By Militants, Army

Togo's controversially elected president, Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the country's late leader, is trying to organize a national unity government, as soldiers and angry militants terrorize parts of the capital, Lome. At least a dozen people were reported killed in clashes Tuesday.

Youths remained agitated in opposition strongholds after a day of deadly clashes that erupted following the official announcement of Mr. Gnassingbe's election victory.

One youth who manned a barricade, made of an overturned truck and a felled tree, said they were trying to keep soldiers and roaming pro-government militias out of their neighborhoods.

"We are sure that Faure Gnassingbe did not win the election," he said. "They want to steal our victory so we do not accept this. Now you could make a small organization in the area to fight them."

An old man said he would help the so-called resistance movement until Mr. Gnassingbe resigns. He says people were tired of the same family in power.

"I know that we shall win," he said. "We shall win because we are more than them, because the father can spoil the things, the children will come to spoil it again. So now we need a way that we should have it because we survive. They never survive, those people they spoiled everything. They have failed everything."

Opposition militants looted homes and businesses of French, Lebanese, and Chinese nationals, forcing them to seek refuge inside embassies and hotels. The militants blamed the international community for doing nothing to contest the results.

Civilians in opposition strongholds said soldiers had entered their homes at night, beating them up.

During the day, shots could be heard throughout the city.

Phone lines were severely disrupted, as were radio stations and flights out of the country.

Hundreds of people gathered at bus stops, saying they were trying to go to nearby Benin, Ghana or to their home villages. Some of them just walked away, carrying their possessions on their heads.

An opposition party leader, speaking to VOA on condition of anonymity, said Lome was turning into a war zone.

"Do not you agree that the militants have the right to be angry? What is happening in the country is complete nonsense. It is a complete nonsense," said the opposition leader. "We are no more in a republic in Togo, it is a kind of monarchy people are trying to impose on these people. People cannot accept that. Now the leadership of the opposition is one of the responsible leaderships in Africa. I do not hear any leader asking the boys to take weapons, to take anything against the government forces, but when you go to bed in some areas you have the soldiers, how you say it, beating people, going with guns on the people, it is not acceptable. We want peace in this country, but we are not alone. We want peace, but if the people in front of us do not want peace then we are going to go into trouble."

Speaking to journalists late Tuesday, the newly elected Mr. Gnassingbe appealed for calm and for the opposition to join him in a new government.

The 39-year-old son of long-time ruler Gnassingbe Eyadema, who died in February, said it was time for all Togolese to come together and achieve reconciliation and development.

Main opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, the son of Togo's founding president, agreed in principle to a national unity government during talks Monday in Nigeria, before the release of the election results.

But Mr. Olympio now says he cannot trust Mr. Gnassingbe, because he says the results were fraudulent to begin with. At a news conference in Lome Wednesday afternoon, the opposition's losing candidate, Emmanuel Akitani-Bob, has declared himself the winner of Sunday's election.