Hours after a mob killed two men in a rare outburst against Haiti's military, a group of men strode into Cite Soleil carrying grenades, guns and gasoline.

When the men were done Monday, much of the seaside slum was in flames. At least 200 shanties burned to the ground; as many as eight people were killed; and an estimated 1,500 residents were homeless.The army-backed Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH) denied setting the fire, which residents say was in retaliation for the killing of two pro-military political activists early Monday.

Attacks on the military and their supporters have been few and far between in the period of political repression that has followed the military's overthrow of elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991.

Nearly every grass-roots group that supported Aristide has been dismantled and leaders driven underground or, like Aris-tide, into exile.

Cite Soleil, an Aristide stronghold of cardboard shanties and open sewers, has borne the brunt of the crackdown.

Soldiers killed scores of residents in the days after the coup to quash popular indignation. Random shootings pierce the night curfews. Informers report on movements.

"This is where the political warfare of the last two years has led to - real civil war," said Dr. Reginald Boulos, who directs a U.S.-funded health center in Cite Soleil, French for Sunshine City.

Just two days earlier, Boulos had spent his Christmas distributing toys to the poor children here. Now he was surveying the ruins over an area the size of three football fields, where the 200-some shanties had stood.

"The poor people of Haiti do not deserve this," Boulos said.

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Adding to the turmoil is FRAPH, a mass movement made up partly of disenchanted Aristide supporters who have gained strength even in Cite Soleil.

The army-backed group scored a success in October when their violent protests at a harbor docking site convinced the Clinton administration not to land a shipload of U.S. military engineers here. The decision doomed a U.N. plan to return Aristide on Oct. 30.

All that was left at sunset Monday in Cite Soleil were sheet-metal roof sections, wire bed frames and what few belongings residents could salvage.

Haiti was already the poorest country in the Americas before Aristide's ouster, and its economy has plummeted since because of widespread corruption and world trade sanctions.

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