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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
18 January 2006

COTE D IVOIRE: Five dead in clashes with UN peacekeepers in "Wild West"

ABIDJAN, 18 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - Five people were killed and 10 injured in violent anti-UN clashes that broke out after dawn on Wednesday at a peacekeeping camp in the western Cote d’Ivoire town of Guiglo, where an angry crowd also torched several United Nations offices, a hospital source said.

Between 200 and 300 Bangladeshi troops stationed at the UN peacekeeping mission in the cocoa-producing town near the Liberian border, pulled out of Guiglo in the morning after the base came under attack overnight by youth, according to UN military spokesman Gilles Combarieu.

"There was an exchange of gunfire," Combarieu told IRIN. "The troops have withdrawn towards the north, towards the buffer zone." Some 10,000 blue helmets and French troops monitor the buffer area separating the rebel-held north and government-controlled south of the country.

"There are five dead and 10 injured from bullet wounds," a doctor at the local hospital said on condition of anonymity.

Youngsters, many of them claiming to be members of the Young Patriots movement loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo, looted and torched offices of UN agencies and non-governmental organisations such as OCHA, UNHCR, and Save the Children, according to residents.

"They are attacking everything that is a symbol of the United Nations," one resident told IRIN. "And they are taking whatever they can get."

A UN source said that “the OCHA office in Guiglo is on fire and the offices of IOM and UNHCR. The offices of Save the Children have been looted.”

Some 350 kilometres away, the country’s main city Abidjan was at a standstill for the third consecutive day as roadblocks manned by Young Patriots blocked most crossroads and frightened residents stayed at home.

The pro-Gbagbo youth movement also took over state television and at around noon, began broadcasting messages calling on people to join the protests.

Violence has gripped Cote d’Ivoire since Monday, with supporters of President Gbagbo and his party the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) stepping up attacks against UN facilities and calling on the UN to quit the country.

ONUCI has been overseeing a fragile peace between rebels who captured the northern half of Cote d’Ivoire after a September 2002 mutiny, and the government.

While the world’s top cocoa producer has seen successive bouts of violence in the last three and a half years, this week’s trouble comes after UN-appointed international mediators deemed the mandate of the FPI-majority parliament over.

Pro-FPI youths took to the streets burning tyres and setting up barricades in a host of government controlled towns, including Daloa and Guiglo in the west, the port city of San Pedro in the south west and the official capital, Yamoussoukro.

[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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