- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 18, 2001

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Armed commandos stormed the National Palace early yesterday, killing four persons before police recaptured the building and killed one of the gunmen. Government supporters, meanwhile, retaliated by burning down the homes and offices of opposition leaders.

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his wife were unharmed in their home in Tabarre, about three miles from the palace, said National Palace spokesman Jacques Maurice. Nearly 12 hours after the attack, Mr. Aristide still had not appeared on television or radio, but government officials said he would issue a statement later in the day.

Hundreds of Mr. Aristide's supporters, wielding machetes and sticks, surrounded the palace, shouting, "We'll never accept another coup d'etat."

Mr. Aristide was first elected president in 1990 and stayed in power eight months before the army ousted him in a coup that began Sept. 30, 1991. He was restored to power in 1994 by U.S. troops, but a term limit forced him to step down in 1996. He was replaced by his protege, Rene Preval. Mr. Aristide began his second term in February.

"This is an attempted coup d'etat," Mr. Maurice said.

In apparent retribution for the palace attack, Mr. Aristide's supporters torched the headquarters of the Convergence opposition alliance in the capital as well as three buildings that serve as headquarters for the socialist National Congress of Democratic Movements, the center-left Convention of Democratic Unity and the conservative Alliance for the Liberation of Haiti, all members of the 15-party alliance.

Mr. Aristide's supporters also burned the home of opposition leader Luc Mesadieu in northern Gonaives and attacked the home of opposition leader Gerard Pierre-Charles in Petionville, just outside Port-au-Prince. There were no reported injuries.

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