18 December 2011

Cote d'Ivoire: Violence in West Kills Six - Official

Photo: H.Caux/UNHCR/IRIN
People fleeing the Abobo district of Abidjan (file photo).

Clashes pitting groups of armed youths against government forces in the west of Ivory Coast killed at least six people at the weekend, a senior official said Sunday.

The unrest in Vavoua started after a dispute between Republican Forces (FRCI) and youths Saturday night left dead a young man who succumbed to his injuries in hospital, the military said on state television.

On Sunday morning, "many young people armed with clubs and rifles" tried to storm the military camp in Vavoua, located in the northern half of the country which had been under rebel control since 2002, said the army.

The FRCI troops first "fired into the air" but, faced with the advance of the armed demonstrators, "fatally wounded five young people," said the army.

Earlier Sunday, the west African country's junior defence minister, Paul Koffi Koffi, told AFP that the toll was "five dead" and said casualties could rise as there were also "one or two seriously injured".

Clashes, some deadly, involving the rebels-turned-government forces of the FRCI have become common in the country since the end of the 2010-11 post-election crisis that left more than 3,000 people dead.

Ivory Coast was plunged into bloody chaos when former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in a November 2010 poll.

He was captured in April by forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the current president, with support from French and UN troops.

Gbagbo is now awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity.

Ouattara -- whose party won parliamentary elections boycotted by Gbagbo's party -- has vowed to unite the country, once a beacon of stability in west Africa, after a near decade of civil war. - ANP/AFP

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