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Comoros Official: Rebel Chief Fled

A government official in Comoros says rebel leader Mohamed Bacar has fled to a nearby French island after troops overthrew him from the Comorian island of Anjouan.

Senior government official Mohamed Dossar told Reuters news agency Bacar is now on the French-run island of Mayotte with about a dozen people who fled with him.

Comorian troops had been searching for Bacar since Tuesday when they invaded the island of Anjouan where Bacar had declared himself the leader.

The government of Comoros says it will install an interim administration on the formerly rebel-held island by the end of this week, and expects to hold general elections there May 13.

The chief of the Comoros army tells VOA the island will soon be reunited with the rest of the nation.

He says about 50 rebel officials have surrendered or been arrested

South African President Thabo Mbeki has criticized the military assault on Anjouan. He said the conflict should have been resolved peacefully.

Comoros President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi authorized the offensive, saying force was the only option against Bacar.

Comoros consists of three islands off Africa's east coast. Each of the islands has a regional president under the country's main leader. Bacar, who was elected in 2001, refused to step down last July when the other islands held presidential elections.

Comoros has a history of instability, having endured at least 19 coups or coup attempts since independence from France in 1975.