Two people including a regional director of police, Jonas Maxine, were slain by armed rebels in an attack on a police station in the central town of Hinche 130 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of the capital, according to town sources and radio reports.

 

The threat to Haiti's government shows no signs of abating. The opposition held a peaceful protest on Sunday in the capital Port-au-Prince, repeating its call for President Jean Bertrande Aristide's resignation.

 

About 1000 people supported the rally which was mainly peaceful, but police fired teargas at one group of protesters.

  

About 200 protesters who had put roadblocks in the streets were also dispersed by police that arrested four people. Protesters shouted slogans demanding Aristide step down from office.

 

Armed rebellion

  

Meanwhile, leading anti-Aristide figures distanced their movement from a former police chief and a paramilitary leader who have joined an armed rebellion against the teetering government.

 

Police teargassed a section of
the protesters

Former police commissioner Guy Philippe, fired after a 2000 coup attempt against Aristide, and paramilitary leader Louis Jodel Chamberlain, accused of human rights violations under military dictator Raoul Cedras who was in power in 1991-1994, have joined rebels in Haiti's north.

  

Andre Apaid, a prominent opposition leader, said the civilian opposition did not want to be associated with the two men.

  

"We want to avoid being affiliated with Guy Philippe and Louis Jodel Chamblain, who represent a past that the Haitian people are not interested in anymore," said Apaid.

 

Contribution

 

"We support the people in Haiti's north who are asking for Jean Bertrand Aristide's resignation, but not to the armed conflict," he said.

  

Philippe and Chamberlain said they had contributed truckloads of armed men to rebels who control Gonaives, Haiti's fourth-largest city, located in the north.   

 

The two men announced their alliance on Saturday over Radio Signal FM after meeting Butteur Metayer, president of the Revolutionary Artibonite Resistance Front.

 

"We support the people in Haiti's north who are asking for Jean Bertrand Aristide's resignation"

Andre Apaid,
opposition leader, Haiti

"No one can stop 500 well armed men," said Jonas Petit, spokesman for Aristide's Lavalas movement, who added that the country's 5000 policemen are not enough to fight the rebels.

  

About 50 people have been killed in the past week while Caribbean leaders failed to persuade Aristide to cede power.

  

The country has been without a functioning parliament since last year and Aristide has been running the country by decree.

  

Aristide was elected in 1990 and ousted in a coup a few months later. The United States sent 20,000 soldiers in 1994 to restore him to power, allowing the former Roman Catholic priest to serve a five-year-term.

  

Aristide was elected again in 2000.