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Loyal Argentine Troops Corral Mutinous Units

From Associated Press

Government troops today surrounded bases and buildings seized before dawn by mutinous soldiers in an uprising two days before President Bush is scheduled to visit.

President Carlos Saul Menem declared a state of siege, suspending constitutional guarantees and giving his government sweeping powers to ensure public order. His government demanded that the rebels surrender unconditionally.

Bush, in Brazil, indicated he had no plans to cancel his visit to Argentina, and the military said the situation is being brought under control. The rebels said they are not trying to overthrow the government but are trying to force changes in the way the military was run.

The uprising, the fourth military revolt in Argentina in four years, began when insurgent soldiers seized part of the downtown army headquarters, several coast guard buildings nearby, a tank factory 16 miles to the northwest and infantry base five miles to the north.

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Loyal troops tried to retake the installations, but by afternoon the rebels were still holed up in the buildings they seized. The army said at least three loyal soldiers were killed and 14 wounded in the fighting.

Police sealed off major roads in Buenos Aires, a city of 10 million people. Federal police banned public gatherings and the Economy Ministry declared a bank holiday.

The army said a total of 200 rebel soldiers were involved, but rebels claimed 700 followers at several bases, including a tank battalion in Entre Rios Province, north of Buenos Aires Province.

The private news agency Noticias Argentinas said government troops were mining the exits from the tank factory to prevent the rebels from driving tanks out. It also said the government troops dynamited a bridge and blocked a tunnel that cross the Parana River north of the capital to prevent a column of rebel tanks and armored vehicles from leaving Entre Rios province.

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