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Bomb Explodes Near Madagascar Leader’s Car, Government Says

A bomb exploded near the car of Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina late yesterday, said Lucien Rakotoarimasy, the country’s defense minister.

Rajoelina was unhurt and the cars in the president’s motorcade weren’t damaged, Rakotoarimasy said yesterday by phone from Antananarivo, the capital. The home-made bomb was detonated at the roadside, using a 200 meter-long (656 feet) wire, he said.

“They put a time-bomb on the route the president takes home from the palace,” Alain Ramaroson, head of the Cabinet’s defense commission, said by phone. “They knew his schedule and took advantage of a section of the road where cars are forced to slow down.”

Political parties in the Indian Ocean island nation have been in dispute since March 2009, when Rajoelina, a 36-year-old former Antananarivo mayor, ousted Marc Ravalomanana with the help of the military. The three main opposition groups rejected a proposal from Southern African Development Community mediators that Rajoelina stay as head of a transitional administration until elections that should be held by November.

There were no independent witness reports on the explosion and the motorcade immediately left the scene, Rakotoarimasy said.

Madagascar, with a $9 billion economy, is the world’s largest vanilla grower, while oil, nickel and titanium products have also attracted investors.

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