Madagascar arrests bomb attack suspects

Madagascar’s police have arrested a group suspected of attempted bomb attacks which the government linked to ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana.
Up to seven men were seized overnight,a senior police officer said yesterday. They were mostly employees of the exiled Ravalomanana’s business empire, Tiko.
The army-backed government of Andry Rajoelina has accused Ravalomanana of planning a coup in a bid to return to the Indian Ocean Island after his forced departure in March, Reuters explains.
“We have arrested several suspects over the bombs. We found more homemade bombs and Molotov cocktails in their houses,” military police commander Colonel Bruno Razafindrakoto said.
More arrests were likely, he said, and raids unearthed more explosive-making material ahead of Independence Day on Friday.
In mid-June, an explosive device partially blew up inside a city supermarket, causing minor damage but no casualties. Several days later, military experts defused an unexploded bomb near a security post in the capital Antananarivo.
Political turmoil has wrought havoc on Madagascar since the beginning of 2009, stunting economic growth and leaving former opposition leader Rajoelina’s government in diplomatic isolation.
The instability has alarmed foreign investors exploring for oil, cobalt, nickel, gold and uranium.
Rajoelina’s government branded the attempted bomb blasts a “political coup”.
Stopping short of pointing the finger directly at Ravalomanana, Prime Minister Roindefo Monja said they had clear links to the opposition, an allegation it denied.
“We don’t orchestrate this kind of thing by remote control. What’s more, we condemn all acts of terrorism,” Raharinaivo Andriananto, spokesman for Ravalomanana’s political party in Madagascar, Reuters reports.
At the weekend, the South African Development Community, which has suspended Madagascar, appointed former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano to lead talks after African Union-led efforts to resolve the political deadlock collapsed.
Tensions have risen ahead of Friday’s celebration of 49 years of independence from French colonial rule. Rajoelina has bolstered security in the capital and along the coastline of the world’s fourth largest island.
Ravalomanana, who fled to South Africa, insists he remains the country’s legitimate leader and has rejected sharing power with 35-year old Rajoelina.
In an interview with French RFI radio to be broadcast on today, Rajoelina said there are people “thirsty for power” and Ravalomanana was informing his backers he would soon be back with soldiers.