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Madagascar protest death toll at least 25

At least 25 people were killed and 167 wounded when security forces fired on anti-government protesters outside a presidential palace in Madagascar's capital, the national police said today

world Updated: Feb 08, 2009 14:27 IST

At least 25 people were killed and 167 wounded when security forces fired on anti-government protesters outside a presidential palace in Madagascar's capital, the national police said today.

The country's president and his rival each held the other responsible for the new escalation of political violence on this Indian Ocean Island.

Lala Rakotonirina, chief of communications for the national police, said the toll was based on reports from the main hospital. Rakotonirina said other victims may have been taken to private clinics after Saturday's violence.

Local media reported a reporter for the local RTA station, Ando Ratovonirina, was among the dead.

"We were covering negotiations between security forces and members of the delegation sent by the protesters, the first shots rang out. And our colleague was hit," said Heritiana Ny Anjarason, a reporter for radio Tana.

Yesterday's protest started at a central square where opposition leader Andry Rajoelina regularly addresses supporters. Thousands of demonstrators then headed toward the presidential palace. Protests late last month by Rajoelina's supporters had deteriorated into riots and looting sprees that left dozens of people dead.

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