Ouattara forces attacking Ivorian civilians, UN says

President Alassane Ouattara's armed forces are launching attacks in Ivory Coast's southern and western regions, areas that supported ex-president Laurent Gbagbo following a disputed election last year, the UN mission to the country said Thursday.


AFP - The UN mission in the Ivory Coast accused the armed forces of President Alassane Ouattara Thursday of attacks and violence in the south and west that has left at least two people dead and dozens hurt.

The violence was in areas known to be home to supporters of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, who is under house arrest after a nearly five-month dispute caused by his refusal to accept defeat in elections last November.

The mission is "particularly concerned about the increase of violent incidents and attacks carried out by elements of the RFIC (Republican Forces of Ivory Coast) against several villages," its human rights officer Guillaume Ngefa told reporters.

He accused the forces of using heavy weapons to maintain order and urged "immediate and impartial inquiries" into attacks around the economic capital Abidjan in the south, as well as villages in the west.

The claims come as Ouattara struggles to impose order after the election standoff, which his camp says left close to 3,000 people dead with both sides accused of atrocities including murder and rape.

In one incident, Ngefa said, Ouattara's forces moved into the village of Becouesin, 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Abidjan, and arrested about 20 youth.

"Along the way, they beat a person who later died from his wounds," he said.

An elderly man collapsed and died in nearby Yakasse-Me "while he was trying to run into the bush for fear of being arrested by elements of the RFCI who had launched a clean-up operation," the UN official said.

"These incidents left at least 45 people wounded, three of them with bullet wounds," he said.

Making Abidjan secure again: a major challenge

At Domolon, 55 kilometres southeast of Abidjan, an RFCI incursion resulted in about 30 people wounded, including with machete cuts, as well as large-scale looting and people fleeing into the bush, he said.

RFIC troops backed by the United Nations and France arrested Gbagbo on April 11, bringing an end to a bitter fight between the two men for the presidency of the world's leading cocoa producer.

The dispute arose from Gbagbo's rejection of the UN-backed election commission's ruling that he lost the November 28 presidential elections. He had led Ivory Coast for around 10 years.

Ouattara, who was sworn in last month, has vowed to investigate the alleged atrocities and also to build reconciliation.

The establishment of security is one of the most important tasks facing his government.

The end of a cabinet meeting Wednesday, he pledged to make RFCI forces return to their barracks as quickly as possible and speed up the redeployment of police.

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) said Tuesday that abuses were continuing.

The new government must "commit to pursuing legal action against those responsible for serious violations of human rights" on the part of Gbagbo as well as Ouattara, its president Souhayir Belhassen told reporters at the end of a visit.


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