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Small African nation Eritrea reported calm

Tuesday - 1/22/2013, 9:36am  ET

FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010 file photo, Eritrea's President Isaias Afworki arrives for an African Union summit at Mitiga Airport in Tripoli, Libya. More than 100 dissident soldiers stormed the Ministry of Information in the small East African nation of Eritrea on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 and read a statement on state TV saying the country's 1997 constitution would be put into force, two Eritrea experts said. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, File)

JASON STRAZIUSO
Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Calm reportedly returned to the capital of the small nation of Eritrea on Tuesday, a day after a group of soldiers apparently made a move against the East African country's repressive regime by trying to take over the nation's state broadcasting.

Two Eritrea experts said more than 100 dissident soldiers stormed the Ministry of Information in Asmara on Monday and began to read a statement on state TV saying the country's 1997 constitution would be put into force. The soldiers also said all political prisoners would be freed, but the broadcast was cut off after only two sentences were read, said Leonard Vincent, author of the book "The Eritreans" and co-founder of a Paris-based Eritrean radio station.

By late afternoon Monday there were indications the soldiers' attempt had failed. State television and radio had stopped broadcasting and a tank sat in front of the ministry building, said a Western diplomat in Eritrea. The broadcasting did not resume until late Monday night, according to diplomats.

But the Eritrean ambassador to South Africa, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, denied that anything had happened in Eritrea, which lacks freedom of the press.

"There is no sign of mutiny or coup d'
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