Up to 12 people are reported to have died in fighting in Madagascar's north-eastern, vanilla-producing region of Diego Suarez. Seven soldiers and three civilians were killed on Monday, reports the French news agency, AFP, quoting hospital and military sources.

In the middle of a deepening crisis, Madagascar is a country with a new currency - fuel. Hundreds of thousands of litres are being moved around the island in everything from huge metal drums to plastic soft drinks bottles - by boat, by hand, by truck or by plane. Roadblocks placed by politicians and run by factions of the deeply divided military have set in motion a massive black-market machine that is driving the country steadily towards lawlessness.

There was a steady build-up of soldiers in two of Madagascar's provincial towns on Thursday as president Marc Ravalomanana reiterated his intention to take military action if the blockade of the capital, Antananarivo, was not dismantled within four days. Aid agencies told IRIN that the southern town of Tulear, and Mahajanga in the north were "extremely tense" as armed forces seem to prepare for what is expected to be a crucial showdown between Ravalomanana's men and backers of former more

In just five months the relatively calm Indian Ocean island of Madgascar has been riven by a political row that has seen almost 60 people killed since January and more than 65,000 jobs lost. The World Bank on Tuesday said the economic fallout from the protracted crisis could spell disaster for the poorest of the poor in the country. The leadership wrangle began in January when Marc Ravalomanana, the charismatic mayor of the capital, organised mass protests accusing incumbent president more

Analysts and NGOs on Monday warned of a wider and more vicious confrontation in Madagascar if no political solution is found soon. Six people were killed and many others injured over the weekend in a fresh outbreak of violence in the north-western town of Mahajanga. Local news reports said the civil strife erupted after supporters of ex-president Didier Ratsiraka attacked members of ethnic groups they accused of favouring new president Marc Ravalomanana.