PORT-AU-PRINCE, JULY 24 -- Former members of the Ton-Tons Macoutes militia ambushed and killed demonstrators in a northwestern town, local radio stations reported.

A correspondent in northwestern Haiti for the Roman Catholic Church-run Radio Soleil, said demonstrators in the town of Jean-Rabel had marched peacefully and were returning to their homes when the Macoutes attacked, shooting dead 10 and wounding 41. A press release from the Information Ministry gave the same number of victims, but left it unclear who attacked the protesters or how. The ministry said some houses of people who refused to join the march had been burned.

Two other stations, Protestant church-run Radio Lumiere and independent Radio Haiti Internationale, said the Macoutes had lain in wait and then opened fire on the protesters. Earlier reports on the stations had spoken of 30 dead in the attack.

The Ton-Tons Macoutes are a militia that terrorized Haiti during the dictatorship of Francois Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude. The provisional government that has ruled Haiti since the Duvaliers' fall last year formally disbanded the militia, but has not fully disarmed or prosecuted former members, who are accused of human rights violations.

{Agence France-Presse quoted witnesses as saying the protesters at Jean-Rabel had been demanding land reform, which is opposed by local landowners who are supported by the remnants of the Ton-Tons Macoutes.}

The reported massacre in Jean-Rabel was by far the most violent incident in a rising scale of anti-government strikes, demonstrations and violence to hit Haiti in the past month.