- Ivory Coast - Laurent Gbagbo - military - unrest
Gbagbo party HQ attacked in Ivory Coast
Several men armed with machetes and shotguns attacked the headquarters of former Ivorian president Laurent party in Abidjan on Saturday, kidnapping two party members and injuring three people.
AFP - Armed men attacked former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo's party headquarters Saturday, abducting two people and wounding three, the party said, blaming the raid on supporters of President Alassane Ouattara.
The incident heightened tensions in the country's economic capital of Abidjan after a recent series of attacks against the army that the government has blamed on Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI).
The FPI blamed Saturday's attack on supporters of Ouattara, Gbagbo's rival in a post-election crisis that plunged the country into violent chaos from December 2010 to April 2011 and claimed 3,000 lives.
Gbagbo is currently being held in The Hague where he faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.
"They're Ouattara supporters, we know them, there were some we recognised," said FPI secretary general Laurent Akoun.
"Everyone's terrified," he added. "We respect the law. It's the authorities who are responsible for everything that has happened, they don't protect citizens."
An AFP photographer at the FPI's offices in the upmarket Cocody district saw a car in flames outside, while inside a door was smashed, computer equipment stolen and documents strewn across the floor.
"There were about 10 of us having a meeting when people we did not know burst in, carrying clubs, machetes and shotguns," said Jean-Luc Ouallo, a member of the FPI's youth wing.
"They took away two of our comrades" in a raid which lasted some 10 minutes, he said.
"They threatened to shoot us or burn us alive," added Claude Desire Dasse, another youth wing leader.
Another FPI member said the assailants told them, "get out, get out or we'll burn everything."
The witnesses said the men were speaking Dioula, a language originating from the country's north but widely spoken.
The young party members locked themselves in the toilets, which the men were unable to open, Dasse said, though windows were broken.
Three men were hurt, two in the building and a third just outside as he was talking to guards on duty.
One was hit on the head and two in the face.
Police and troops of the UN peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast, known as ONUCI, went to the scene after the attack.
It was the latest incident in a series which have affected Abidjan more than a year after the post-electoral crisis sparked by Gbagbo's refusal to step down despite having lost presidential elections to Ouattara.
On Thursday, armed men attacked an army base, a prison and police stations near Abidjan, prompting Prime Minister Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou to call on those responsible to disarm and not block the country's "revival".
Ahoussou called for dialogue and announced the dispatch of teams to listen to the population's grievances across the country.
ONUCI, which also issued an urgent appeal for calm, said Friday that the violence demonstrated the need to continue the demobilisation, disarmament and integration of the militia and other fighters responsible for the post-election violence.
The UN mission said at least 70 people had been arrested in the past few days by government security forces on suspicion of attempting attacks on the state.
Five months of unrest followed the disputed polls before Gbagbo was eventually arrested when forces loyal to Ouattara stormed his heavily fortified home with French and UN military backing.
He was extradited in November last year to face trial in The Hague.