Deadly shooting erupts at military bases in Ivory Coast
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Three soldiers died after shooting erupted overnight at a base in the northern Ivorian town of Korhogo, security sources said on Saturday, in a sign of the growing tensions within the West African nation’s military.
Gunfire also erupted at a former UN base near the main Ivorian city of Abidjan, lasting from about 1.30am to after 3.00am, according to residents in the northern Abidjan district of Abobo.
"There was an attack overnight at Abobo, but there were no deaths. In Korhogo, a town in the north of Ivory Coast, three of the assailants were killed," said Colonel Zakaria Kone, commander of the Abobo camp. "The situation is now calm."
“We were asleep when the shooting started,” an Abobo resident told AFP by phone. "There was a lot of shooting inside the old camp of UNOCI, the UN's operation in the Ivory Coast, which is currently occupied by the military.”
In a phone interview with AFP, Adama Coulibaly, a Korhogo carpenter, said, “The Korhogo camp’s military started firing shots at 1am in their camp, we don’t know why.”
But Issouf Yéo, a teacher in Korhogo, said, ”The soldiers stayed in their camp and haven’t occupied the streets yet.”
According to a source close to the Ivorian army, “It is the army’s corporals who are at the origin of this but right now we don’t know their motivations.”
In January and in May, Ivory Coast experienced mutinies from former rebels who have been integrated in the army and are claiming the payment of government bonuses. They eventually received a payoff of 12,000 CFA francs (18,000 euros) per head from the state.
Some 6,000 former “demobilised” rebels, who have not integrated the army, have also asked for bonuses but unsuccessfully. Four of them were killed in May during an intervention by the security forces to disperse a demonstration.
Ivory Coast endured a decade-long, violent crisis from 2002 to 2011. The country was cut in two between the rebels for the Forces Nouvelles (New Forces) occupying the northern half of the country and the regular amy controlling the south.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)