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Troops Put Down Haiti Coup Bid : Caribbean: Soldiers storm the National Palace and arrest Roger Lafontant. At least 34 people are killed.

From Associated Press

Loyalist soldiers stormed the National Palace today and arrested a supporter of ousted dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier who had tried to overthrow the government. At least 34 people reportedly died in street violence during the coup attempt.

State-run radio said 26 Haitians were killed in a shoot-out at the headquarters of the Union for National Reconciliation, the party headed by the coup leader, Roger Lafontant.

At least seven suspected Duvalier supporters were lynched by protesters and their bodies burned by placing flaming tires around their necks, independent Radio Metropole said. Police shot a man caught looting a store in the capital, the radio report said.

Lafontant was led away from the palace in handcuffs by the troops, then taken to the capital’s international airport to be deported, a member of President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s staff said.

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State television said 12 people were arrested with Lafontant, who earlier today had seized the National Palace, declared himself Haiti’s new leader and apparently taken outgoing President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot hostage.

After Lafontant was taken away, Pascal-Trouillot appeared on a palace balcony and waved to the cheering crowds below, the radio said.

Radio Soleil, the Roman Catholic station, said no one was injured during Lafontant’s surrender. There was still no word on whether there were any injuries in the coup attempt.

Jubilant Haitians sang and danced in the streets. But before LaFontant’s arrest, protesters staged violent demonstrations that left up to eight people dead, Radio Metropole said.

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Radio Haiti Inter broadcast a message from Aristide, the 37-year-old leftist Roman Catholic priest, in which he congratulated the army, the people and the diplomatic corps for bringing the attempted coup to an end.

He denied that there is any power vacuum in the country and said the army will continue to reestablish order.

“In the meantime, stand firm,” he told Haitians in the broadcast.

Aristide, elected by a landslide last month in the country’s first free nationwide vote, is scheduled to take office Feb. 7, the fifth anniversary of Duvalier’s fall in a popular uprising.


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