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Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008
                 
Philippe challenges DEA, FBI agents to once again try to take him out of the circulation 
                                 
By Joseph Guyler Delva, Reuters Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, March 26 (Reuters) - A Haitian former rebel leader accused by U.S. authorities of drug smuggling said on Wednesday he would not surrender and challenged U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents to try again to arrest him.

A day after U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI agents raided his Haitian home with fast boats and helicopters, Guy Philippe, who led an armed revolt in 2004 against then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, told a radio talk show he was peacefully going about his business in the small seaside town of Pestel.

"They came here to terrorize the population. They said they were looking for me, but I am right here in Pestel now," Philippe, a former district police chief, ex-army officer and failed presidential candidate, told Signal FM radio by cellphone.

"I am here at home and I am staying here," he said, also announcing he planned to run for a seat in the Haitian Senate.

Dozens of U.S. anti-narcotics agents and federal police, backed by Haitian counter-narcotics police, descended on Pestel in darkness early on Tuesday, hunting Philippe, according to local officials and witnesses. The force searched for Philippe house to house but failed to find him.

Philippe, who stayed on the line for over an hour with the radio show fielding questions from the host and callers, said he would not allow U.S. agents to arrest him.

"I can give you the guarantee that this is not going to happen," he said.

Philippe said about 100 foreign anti-drug and FBI agents participated in the raid. U.S. officials in Port-au-Prince declined to provide any figures, and U.S. federal prosecutors in Miami, where drug charges have been brought against Philippe -- according to media reports -- said they had no comment.

Philippe again denied any involvement in drug trafficking, adding, "I will not allow those who are plotting to eliminate me to humiliate me."

He said he planned to compete in elections expected to take place over the coming months to fill some Senate seats.

"I am going to run for senator, because I am a citizen of this country," he said.

(Editing by Michael Christie and Cynthia Osterman)

Reuters 2008 All rights reserved

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