Several hurt in clash at Ivory Coast rally

2012-01-21 20:35

ABIDJAN, Jan 21, 2012 (AFP) -Supporters of former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo clashed Saturday with assailants, leading to several injuries, as police fired tear gas in a bid to keep the two sides apart.

Under a hail of stones the Gbagbo loyalists were forced to call off their meeting, intended to mark a "political comeback" for the former ruling Ivorian Popular Front (FPI).

They had gathered in a square in his stronghold district of Yopougon in the economic capital when they came under attack by a group of youths.

One young man who was wounded on the ear claimed to AFP the attackers were supporters of Gbagbo's rival, current President Alassane Ouattara.

Another was seen being evacuated with his head split open and T-shirt soaked in blood.

As the Gbagbo supporters tried to retaliate, the police, who were backed by troops of the Ivory Coast UN mission, fired several volleys of tear gas.

But when FPI leader Miaka Oureto began speaking the stoning redoubled and the opponents stormed the square, sweeping up chairs and obliging a party official to abandon the meeting, advising people to go home in small groups.

Gbagbo's refusal to quit after his defeat in a November 2010 election triggered conflict in the west African country which left around 3,000 people dead before Ouattara took power with the support of UN and French peacekeeping forces.

Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011 and is now in The Hague awaiting trial by the International Criminal Court, accused of crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in the violence.

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