Security forces in Madagascar have arrested 19 people on suspicion of plotting a coup, the latest in a series of plot rumours to hit the Indian Ocean island's capital in the past few weeks.
Colonel Rene Lylison, the head of the security unit that carried out the arrests, told journalists that there were plans to attack the Prime Minister's residence in the early hours of Monday.
"It was serious. Some officers had prepared a coup d'etat, to kill Malagasies … fortunately, we were able to prevent the attempt," he said.
There is growing disquiet in Madagascar over the rule of President Andry Rajoelina, a former mayor of the capital who seized power with the help of soldiers in March 2009.
The African Union imposed sanctions on Mr Rajoelina and 108 of his backers last month for failing to install a unity government with the country's three main opposition groups. The parties reached agreements in Maputo and Addis Ababa last year on power sharing, but failed to carry them out amid differences.
Analysts say some high-level military officials are frustrated at President Rajoelina's failure to end the crisis and restore constitutional order.
On April 12, the army gave the President until the end of April to offer an acceptable way out of the political crisis.
Divisions within Rajoelina's government have also emerged. Early this month, the Prime Minister sacked Armed Forces minister General Noel Rakotonandrasana in a show of no confidence. But General Rakotonandrasana has refused to leave his post.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the suspected coup plot, although some army officers and a number of civilians were arrested. Colonel Lylison said more arrests were likely to follow.