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Madagascan Soldier Says Dissident Officers Surrendered

Government military officers run outside the air force base near the airport in Antananarivo, Madagascar, 20 Nov 2010

A Madagascan soldier says dissident officers who launched a failed coup attempt three days ago have surrendered after Madagascan troops stormed their barracks.

The soldier says the mutineers gave themselves up Saturday at the base near the capital, Antananarivo. Earlier, shots were fired as at least 50 Madagascan troops raided the camp. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The dissident officers said Wednesday they were taking over power from President Andry Rajoelina, who grabbed power himself with military backing last year, when he was an opposition leader. But the mutinous soldiers did not gain support from the rest of the military.

Madagascar's army chief Andre Ndriarijoana held talks with the dissidents inside their barracks on Friday to try to resolve the situation.

The mutineers announced their coup attempt on the same day that President Rajoelina's government held a referendum on his plans for a new constitution and elections. Critics say the proposals are designed to solidify the president's hold on power. His government has faced international isolation and political stalemate since the March 2009 coup.

Also Saturday, several hundred anti-government activists led by a mayors' association rallied in Antananarivo to protest the government's electoral plans. Police fired tear gas to break up the protest and arrested the leader of the mayors' group.

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