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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
2 January 2006

COTE D IVOIRE: New attacks on military camps in Abidjan

ABIDJAN, 2 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - Attacks on two military camps in Abidjan left at least 10 people dead on Monday, just days after the formation of a new unity government in Cote d'Ivoire had given fresh hope of a peaceful end to the three-year crisis dividing the nation.

There was heavy gunfire heard during the early morning attack against the main Akuedo military barracks but within two hours Ivorian army chief of staff Philippe Mangou went on state television to reassure residents that the army was in control of the camps located in an eastern district of the city.

In a statement broadcast later during the evening news, Ivorian army spokesman Colonel Hilaire Gohourou Babri said 10 people had been killed - three soldiers and seven assailants - and 32 assailants taken prisoner.

The army statement said "the two Akuedo camps were simultaneously attacked with light and heavy weaponry by assailants who came from outside."

But a spokesman alleging to represent mutinous soldiers claimed responsibility for the attack. The trouble arose from demands for 900,000 CFA francs each (US $1,800) in unpaid wages and war bonuses, according to the spokesman who gave his name only as Commander Albert.

"We’re Ivorian soldiers, we're not rebels, and we want to get paid," he told IRIN.

But Mangou denied there had been a mutiny and accused international radio stations who spoke to Commander Albert of “intoxication”.

Cote d'Ivoire has been divided into a government-run south and a rebel-held north since disgruntled soldiers tried to topple President Laurent Gbagbo more than three years ago.

On Monday, the New Forces rebel movement denied involvement in the attack.

President Laurent Gbagbo briefly visited the barracks late Monday and stressed that the shooting was not caused by a mutiny.

"These were aggressors who came from outside the two Akuedo camps," he said. "Some were disguised, others were wearing camouflage gear but had their clothes underneath. So it wasn't a mutiny."

Eyewitnesses told IRIN that the bodies of at least 10 people, some of them stripped naked, had been lying at the destroyed entrance gate and in the courtyard of the new Akuedo camp before being hauled away in army trucks.

Security forces set up roadblocks across the city and around the national broadcasting station. Shops remained closed and most residents stayed home. In residential neighborhoods near the camps, pro-government students set up barricades in support of the security forces.

"I've seen a lot of military drive by since this morning but I can't say I feel reassured," said a resident who gave her name as Aisha, several hundred meters from a roadblock in the central neighborhood of Cocody. "This is a very confusing situation."

By early afternoon, troops carried out a mopping-up operation around the barracks arresting an unknown number of people.

In December, another military camp in Abidjan briefly came under attack when unidentified gunmen walked through the gate, fired several rounds into the air and sped away in a taxi.

The assault comes only days after Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny announced a new 32-member unity cabinet with representatives of the ruling party, the rebels and the political opposition.

In a statement, the prime minister said he condemned the use of violence whatever the reasons and "asks his compatriots to prioritise dialogue."

[ENDS]

 

This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but May not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2006



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