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9995: Armed men storm Haiti National Palace - report (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

     PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Gunmen attempted to storm
Haiti's National Palace early on Monday morning, national radio reported,
but they were repulsed and President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his family
were said to be safe.
     The gunmen, reportedly former members of the Haitian military and
possibly aided by a contingent of Dominican army soldiers, entered the
palace grounds shortly after 5 a.m., but were routed after an exchange of
fire with palace security forces, the radio said.
     There were no immediate reports of any casualties.
     Coup fears have been running high in Haiti in recent days as a result
of increased tensions between President Aristide's Lavalas Family Party and
the opposition Democratic Convergence, culminating in several days of
rioting in the coastal city of Petit Goave this past week.
     Aristide and the opposition have been at odds since disputed
legislative elections in May 2000, which critics in the Caribbean nation
and abroad have accused of being rigged to benefit the Lavalas Family. The
controversy has resulted in the suspension of $500 million of desperately
needed international aid.
     Monday's attack was reminiscent of one launched this past summer, when
former members of the military, disbanded by Aristide after a 1991 coup,
attempted to seize police stations in the capital and in the rural Central
Plateau region only to be turned back by Haiti's National Police and
members of the special riot-squad known as CIMO.