MORONI ( Reuters ) – Troops from the amerind Ocean archipelago of Comoros seized the rebel island of Anjouan on Tuesday with African Union military avail, and the politics said its self-declared drawing card had fled dressed as a charwoman. Comoro ‘s President Ahmed Sambi ( 2nd L ) and Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Amiri Salimou ( 2nd R ) talk to Comorian troops in Moheli island in this dateless file photograph. The indian Ocean archipelago nation of Comoros said it had seized complete control condition of the maverick island of Anjouan on March 25, 2008 after a seaborne attack backed by the African Union. REUTERS/Stringer
The forces attacked at dawn to topple Mohamed Bacar, a French-trained early gendarme who took power in 2001 and clung on after an illegal election last year on the wooded, cragged island of 300,000 people. “ Anjouan island is under total operate of the united states army, ” Major Ahmed Sidi told reporters on the neighbor island of Moheli.

“ so far we have no dead or wounded to lament. The insurgent chiefs have all run away, and none has yet been found. ” A federal politics spokesman said Bacar had been spotted in the village of Sandapoini from where he was thought to be trying to escape by boat to the nearby French-run island of Mayotte. “ It seems, according to diverse sources, that he is dressed as a woman, ” the spokesman, Abdourahim Said Bacar, told Reuters. With telephone connections to Anjouan edit, there was no freelancer confirmation of that. From early on good morning, gunfire and explosions echoed across Anjouan, one of three islands in the coup-prone archipelago that won independence from France in 1975. Hundreds of Comorian and AU troops quickly took the capital, airport and early towns, officials said. One said several of Bacar ’ s aides had been arrested, including his department of justice minister. The AU had deployed some 1,350 troops to the zest and perfume-producing islands, which lie 300 kilometer ( 190 miles ) east of the African mainland and have a population of about 700,000 .

TEST FOR AFRICAN UNION

Analysts say the AU was hoping a relatively easy victory in Anjouan would earn some external prestige to offset the struggles of its peacekeeping missions in Sudan and Somalia. But the real examination for the AU was whether it could prove as effective in resolving more high-profile conflicts, they said.

“ There is nothing in Comoros — it ’ s an easier slob to slaughter than Chad or Somalia. They ’ re pick on a belittled political animal, ” said Chrysantus Ayangafac, an Addis Ababa-based research worker for the Institute of Security Studies. The street fighter AU stance on Anjouan, which tried to break away from the early islands in 1997, may reflect its traditional antipathy to any secessionist moves on a continent where borders were much drawn randomly by colonial masters. Spearheading the AU mission in Comoros are Tanzania and Sudan, which themselves face calls for independence from semi-autonomous Zanzibar and southerly Sudan respectively. But continental baron South Africa, which had tried to help mediate an end to the crisis, criticized the military assail. “ I think it is identical inauspicious that the military action has taken position because it takes the Comoros back to this history of force rather of resolving matters peacefully, ” President Thabo Mbeki told reporters in Pretoria. Comoros ’ federal government accuses Bacar of secessionist aspirations, although he maintains he is fighting for more autonomy preferably than independence. A instruction said Comoros President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi, an Islamist businessman and native of Anjouan, was committed to holding new Anjouan elections equally soon as possible. many Anjouan inhabitants accuse Bacar of ruling through the threat of ferocity and repressing any protest. The Comoros islands — which grow vanilla, cloves and ilang-ilang, a bloom whose oils are used in aromatherapy — were beginning settled by Arab seafarers 1,000 years ago, then late became a pirate haven. After suffering some 20 coups or coup attempts since independence, Comoros is trying to shrug off a history of imbalance.

( extra coverage by Ed Harris in Mauritius, Katie Nguyen in Nairobi, Paul Simao in Pretoria ; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne and Katie Nguyen ; Editing by Matthew Tostevin ) For wide Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the lead issues, visit : africa.reuters.com/ Our Standards : The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles .

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