President of Comoro Islands Killed by Mutinous Soldiers

From Associated Press

Mutineers led by a former army commander attacked the presidential palace in the Comoro Republic and killed President Ahmed Abdallah, longtime ruler of the Indian Ocean island nation, officials said Monday.

The rebel leader, former commandant Ahmed Mohamed, resigned recently in a dispute with the 70-year-old president, an official at the Comoro Embassy in Paris said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said the assassination was not a coup attempt and that Mohamed was under arrest. The number of attackers was not divulged, and the official said he did not know if anyone else was arrested.

Abdallah was killed in a fire fight between rebel soldiers of the regular army and his 300-member presidential guard, state Radio Comoro said. It said a guard officer also was killed.

The head of the Supreme Court, Mohamed Djohar, took over as leader of an interim government, as dictated by the constitution, the official said.

Abdallah had survived coup attempts in 1983, 1985 and 1987.

The attack took place in the capital of Moroni, on the main island of Grand Camore, home to half of the nation's predominantly Muslim population of 500,000. The Comoros, which lie between Mozambique and Madagascar, were governed by Abdallah for all but three years since 1972.

Abdallah will be buried today on his native island of Anjouan, said Radio Comoro, monitored on the French-administered island of Mayotte.

The fighting apparently did not spill into the streets. Bruce Thompson, manager of the Galewa Sun Hotel, told the South African Press Assn. by telephone that everything was normal--"The town is very quiet."

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