29 March 2013

Cote d'Ivoire: Several Liberian Mercenaries Arrested in Ivory Coast

Several Liberian mercenaries and Ivoirian dissidents are reported to have been captured by Ivoirian authorities as part of operations to crack down the ongoing rebellion against the Alassane Ouattara regime.

Reports say the arrests were effected mid-week (Wednesday), 27 March in the town of Trobli in Touloupleu prefecture and another town in Guiglo prefecture in the Man region about 7 miles near Liberia border from inside Ivory Coast.

Our correspondent in the area also told this paper Thursday that the arrests in Trobli Town by Ivorian officials were effected after some locals leaked planned rebel attack on Guiglo and Touloupleu from their mini bases in the region.

The actual numbers and identities of those arrested particularly Liberian mercenaries are not yet known, but Bob Marley who was once accused by the Liberian government of involvement in the ongoing rebellion in the Ivory Coast said to be among those who launched the attack. Marley, believed to be leader of Liberian mercenaries in the area have the history of fighting for many factions during the Liberian conflict here.

The mercenaries are in league with Ivoirian combatants rebelling against the two year-old regime of Alassane Ouattara since the departure of Laurent Gbagbo who was forced out by northerner's rebels in 2010.

When the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) in charge of the border was contacted for verification, its Commissioner Abla Williams could not be reached butr Public Relations Officer, Abraham Dulley said they were not aware of the events unfolding at the border.

But fortnight ago, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai told a local daily (New Democrat) that Liberia has nothing to do with unfolding events across its border with Ivory Coast. In the past two weeks, three attacks have killed at least 13 people and displaced thousands in western Ivory Coast.

Local officials say the attacks in Ivory Coast were carried out by armed groups crossing the border from neighboring Liberia. Ivorian combatants and Liberian mercenaries fled into Liberia when Ivory Coast's post-election conflict ended nearly two years ago.

Human Rights Watch has accused them of involvement in sporadic attacks dating as far back as July 2011. The post-election conflict was sparked by the refusal of former President Laurent Gbagbo to concede defeat in the November 2010 vote against his successor, President Alassane Ouattara.

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