Comoros displays captured 'rebel' arsenal

2018-10-23 10:00
Weapons and ammunitions seized by the Comoros Armed forces in the "Medina" are displayed at the Prosecutor office in Mutsamudu in Anjouan, Comoros. (AFP)

Weapons and ammunitions seized by the Comoros Armed forces in the "Medina" are displayed at the Prosecutor office in Mutsamudu in Anjouan, Comoros. (AFP)

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Officials in Comoros on Monday displayed weapons and ammunition allegedly recovered by security forces from rebel fighters who besieged part of Anjouan island's main city during a week of clashes.

Soldiers showed off an array of Kalashnikov-style assault rifles, boxes of bullets and explosive munitions said to have belonged to rebel fighters.

The army said it had regained control of the so-called medina quarter of Mutsamudu city on Saturday, in the latest bout of instability to rock the coup-prone Indian Ocean archipelago.

At least two civilians were killed in a week of violence that pitted troops against opponents of President Azali Assoumani.

"Our only priority is to recover weapons, even if it takes two years, we'll take the time and the means necessary to secure the island and the people. Peace has no price," said the president's chief-of-staff responsible for defence, Youssoufa Mohamed Ali.

He added that an amnesty announced on Friday for rebel fighters to surrender their weapons without fear of prosecution or reprisals was "still in force".

He claimed that the "rebels' goal was to seize control of the island" which is one of three that makes up the historically coup-prone Comoros.

The rebel force was estimated to have numbered around 30, of whom 20 have been positively identified, according to a security source.

Following a deal between the national government and the island's authorities, controlled by the opposition Juwa party, Anjouan governor Abdou Salami Abdou was arrested on Sunday.

He is now under house arrest pending a court appearance but has denied any links to the rebels .

"The prosecution's case is substantial," said national education minister Mahamoud Salim Hafi who led negotiations for the Assoumani regime.

Life in Mutsamudu, which was at the forefront of the violence, had largely returned to normal by Monday with army checkpoints lifted and soldiers mingling with civilians.

At the height of the violence businesses around the medina sayed shuttered, water and electricity were cut and people remained indoors.

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