Police Fight Looters Amid Political Unrest in Madagascar Capital

Police tried to control looting in Madagascar's capital Tuesday, a day after thousands of anti-government demonstrators set fire to the state broadcasting complex in unrest that left at least two dead.

Officers had kept off the streets Monday, leading to speculation they backed the protests. Residents of the capital, Antananarivo, woke Tuesday to find shelves emptied and windows broken at several stores.

Police were seen jumping into jeeps, and firing into the air to break up crowds.

The Madagascar Red Cross said that two people were killed and 17 hurt in the unrest on the Indian Ocean island off Africa's southeast coast.

Protesters had taken to the streets after opposition leader Andry Rajoelina's Radio Viva went off the air Monday. In addition to razing one building at the state broadcasting complex, witnesses said protesters set fire to an oil depot and a private TV station linked to the president.

Radio Viva was back on air Tuesday, but the broadcast was spotty. Its editor-in-chief, Liane Herisoa, told The Associated Press that Rajoelina gave a speech in which he claimed the military supported him and that he was planning to form a transitional government.

The phone line with Herisoa was cut before she could elaborate, and attempts to reach Rajoelina were not immediately successful.

President Marc Ravalomanana has not appeared or spoken publicly since his office issued a statement Sunday accusing Rajoelina of promoting the government's overthrow and declaring the government would act decisively to "restore order."

Rajoelina, who is also Antananarivo's mayor, accuses the government of misspending funds and threatening democracy.

African Union commission chairman Jean Ping said the continental body as well as the regional Southern African Development Community were concerned.

"We are following the situation in Madagascar," Ping told journalists in the Ethiopian capital, where an AU summit opens next week.