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As Rebellion Spreads, Military Says Keep Calm

In a broadcast aired on Fijian national radio this afternoon, the military appealed for calm, saying they had total control over Fiji.

The announcement belies a spate of disruptions today on both main islands in Fiji.

On the island of Vanua Levu, military negotiators failed reach an agreement with 80 mutineers who have taken control of a military barracks near Labasa.

The soldiers have pledged allegiance to coup leader George Speight and are protesting against the military’s unilateral move to appoint a new interim Government.

Negotiations between the two sides are likely to resume tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in the province of Naitasiri near Suva, two groups of villagers had gathered in support of the rebels, blocking access to the local airport.

A military spokesperson said the villagers were protesting because they believed the army was getting ready to storm Parliament to end the hostage crisis.

However a Radio New Zealand correspondent said one of the groups was marching in support of a seventeen year old youth - one of the four Speight supporters injured in the shoot out between rebels and the military on Tuesday.

The protests have since been dissolved and the villagers have returned home.

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