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African Union forces seek rebel leader

Latest update : 2008-03-26

The Comoran army continue to search for Anjouan’s self-declared leader Colonel Mohamed Bacar, still on the run following a military operation launched by the Comoran government to remove him from power. (Report: F.Berruyer)

The Comoran army, backed by AU troops, continued in search of Anjouan’s self-declared leader Colonel Mohamed Bacar and his supporters.

Bacar is still on the run on the second day of the military operation launched by the Comoran government to remove him from power.

FRANCE 24’s special correspondent on the island of Anjouan, Franck Berruyer, reports that civilians have been helping the military to the homes of Bacar’s supporters as tensions remain high on the island.

"The troops are involved in an operation to sweep the area around the presidential palace and secure it," Comoran federal army spokesman Ahmed Sidi told AFP.

“We saw the president leave the presidential palace with his wife, brother and body guard at 8 am on Wednesday, a day after the assault”, eyewitnesses told FRANCE 24. They say they saw Bacar heading toward the mountain peaks.

While Bacar remains at large, several people close to him, most notably his ministers, have been taken prisoner.


The Assault:


The deployment of the army and troops mandated by the African Union, expected for more than a week, finally took place overnight Monday into Tuesday.

The first shots were heard around 5 am (GMT+3) on Tuesday on the island, in the town of Ouani, near the airport and the presidential residence. By the end of the morning, Comoran troops declared that they had entered Anjouan’s capital without resistance.

By midday Tuesday, the presidential palace, occupied since 2002 by Colonel Mohamed Bacar, was deserted. Berruyer, who went to the area near the residence, saw that the building was totally empty, with the doors and big windows open.

The Comoran army, supported by African Union troops, clashed with loyalist troops supporting Mohamed Bacar, on Tuesday afternoon around the presidential residence.

The government of the Union of the Comoros decided to launch this operation to chase Colonel Bacar from power. He has been at the head of the island of Anjouan since 2002. His re-election in 2007 was declared illegal by the African Union and France.

The Comoros islands, a former French colony, have been rocked since independence in 1975 by various coups d’état. Out of some 20 attempts, four have succeeded.

Date created : 2008-03-26