Madagascar security forces retook control of government ministries early on Friday, firing shots in the air to disperse opposition vigilante groups who had seized the administration buildings hours before, authorities said.

Supporters of opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, whose campaign of protests has sparked violence killing 125 people in the last month, marched into four ministries on Thursday to take over offices and install officials loyal to him.

Armed police and military personnel set up road-blocks on the streets surrounding the ministries on Friday and turned away the small number of civil servants returning to work.

President Marc Ravalomanana’s Internal Security Minister Desire Rasolofomanana said the protesters were ejected from his ministry and the buildings for interior and administrative reform, centralisation and regional management and education.

“The ministries seized by the opposition have been retaken and the surrounding barriers removed. Civil servants can return to their posts,” said Desire Rasolofomanana in a televised statement on Friday morning.

The worst unrest for years on the world’s fourth largest island has dented its image as a safe destination for major foreign companies like Sherritt International and Rio Tinto, while scaring tourists away.

Oil, minerals and tourism have fuelled Madagascar’s economic growth in recent years.

Rajoelina, 34, a former disc jockey and firebrand politician, has called for Ravalomanana to relinquish power and is seeking to establish a parallel government


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