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Africa

Two dead, scores injured in Madagascar blast

A grenade attack on Madagascar's Independence Day has been branded by the government as a 'terrorist act,' but the identity of the perpetrator(s) remains unclear.

Two people were killed and some 80 wounded in a grenade blast at a stadium in Madagascar's capital Antananarivo on Sunday afternoon (26.06.2016).

One day later, there has been no claim of responsibility and the authorities have made only vague references as to who they believe might be behind the explosion.

The blast hit the Mahamasina municipal stadium while a free concert was taking place to mark the 56th anniversary of Madagascar's independence from France.

The gendarmerie said the two who were killed were teenagers aged 16 and 18. A photograph posted on the website of the presidential office showed two youths lying on stretchers, with blood stains visible on the floor nearby.

President Hery Rajaonarimampianina visited the injured victims. In a statement, he blamed the attack on tensions with political opponents.

Madagaskar Wahlen Hery Rajaonarimampianina 20.12.2013

President Hery Rajaonarimampianina took office in January 2014

"There may be difference of opinion between us, but these acts of destabilization are unacceptable," he said, describing the attack as "an act of terrorism."

He did not elaborate, but pleading for calm said: "We will not respond to violence with violence."

Similar grenade attack

The Madagascar Tribune described the attack as a "nightmare" and in an editorial questioned how an assailant could have smuggled a grenade into the stadium.

Security commanders addressed the media last week about plans to secure the stadium amid rumors that the Independence Day celebrations might be targeted.

Toavina Ralambomahay, a political advisor in Madagascar, said the blast came after an earlier incident "last week when there was an attack against the police in the south of Madagascar in which 21 people were killed," he told DW. "The president said this was a provocation against the government, but there is no evidence," he added.

There was a similar attack on a concert in the same stadium in January 2014 during President Rajaonarimampianina's inauguration when a grenade blast killed a toddler and injured several other people. No arrests were made in connection with that attack and there was no claim of responsibility.

Armut in Madagaskar

Despite minieral reserves, Madagascar is one of the world's poorerst economies

Rajaonarimampianina assumed power following an interlude of five years during which Madagascar was led by a regime which seized power in a coup.

After the 2009 takeover, international donors cut aid and investors pulled out of the country. Donors have since resumed ties, but Madagascar remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Germany's government-owned development agency GIZ says on its website that only five percent of the rural population have access to electricity.