25 March 2013

Cote d'Ivoire: UN Peacekeepers Step Up Patrols in Western Côte D'ivoire After Deadly Attack

The United Nations peacekeeping missions in Côte d'Ivoire and neighbouring Liberia have been reinforcing their patrols after an attack by armed elements in Petit Guiglo, in Côte d'Ivoire's western region.

The UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) has condemned the 23 March attack in which at least two civilians were killed and a traditional hunter known as 'dozo' injured. Three of the assailants were reportedly killed in the fighting, including a well-known local militia leader named Oulai Tako. In addition, two soldiers from the Côte d'Ivoire national army were injured.

Local sources say the assailants burned down numerous houses leaving people homeless.

The assailants reportedly first targeted an army position in Petit Guiglo, before moving to the village itself.

UNOCI has been supporting the reunification and stabilization of the West African country, split by civil war in 2002. A 2010 presidential election, meant to be a culminating point in the peace process, resulted in months of violence when former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after losing to Alassane Ouattara, who finally took office in May 2011.

Last year saw a resurgence of violence over several months, with a spate of attacks targeting national security forces in and around Abidjan and along the borders with Ghana and Liberia.

More than 64,000 Ivorian refugees remain in Liberia since post-election violence in Côte d'Ivoire forced them to flee and 25,000 former Liberian refugees who returned home last year continue to need essential humanitarian assistance.

In recent days, UNOCI peacekeepers have deployed to Petit Guiglo. They are supporting Ivorian forces and protecting civilians through ground and air patrols.

UNOCI is liaising with the UN mission in neighbouring Liberia (UNMIL), which has also reinforced its patrols of the border.

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