Comoros troops advance on rebel Indian Ocean isle

March 25th, 2008 - 3:29 pm ICT by admin  

Johannesburg, March 25 (DPA) An invasion of the Comoros island of Anjouan began Tuesday morning to oust a renegade colonel who seized power there, the Comoros federal government was quoted by South African radio as saying. Anjouan’s airport and capital had been occupied in the operation carried by a coalition of Comoros federal troops and African Union (AU) forces on the Indian Ocean island off the coast of Mozambique, the federal government announced, according to the report.

The BBC said mortar and machine gunfire were heard from the island.

Telephone links to the island were severed by the federal government in recent weeks, making it difficult to immediately verify the progress of the invasion.

Colonel Mohamed Bacar and his supporters took over the island in May 2007, and Bacar declared himself president after winning elections in June in voting not recognized by the central government of the archipelago nation.

Tanzanian and Sudanese troops are taking part in the AU-backed intervention.

Around 450 troops took part in the first wave of the invasion which appeared to have met with little resistance from Bacar’s forces, according to the BBC.

A much larger AU contingent stood ready to provide further support.

The assault began a day after Comoros President Ahmed Sambi ordered the invasion to retake Anjouan.

The island nation, located on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and Mozambique, has been plagued by 19 coups and coup attempts since its 1975 independence from France.

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