Fresh gunfire in Ivory Coast as officials seek end to mutiny

2017-01-07 16:59
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Abidjan - Gunfire could be heard for a second day in a row in Bouake, Ivory Coast's second-largest city, as top security officials prepared to meet disgruntled soldiers who staged a mutiny over pay and other conditions, witnesses and officials said on Saturday.

Shooting in Bouake, a city of about 500 000 in central Ivory Coast, began at 03:00 and continued for several hours before dying down, said Moussa Fofana, a taxi driver.

He said it appeared the soldiers were firing into the air. "They are in vehicles and they are circulating everywhere," he said.

Soldiers launched their mutiny early on Friday by opening fire at a military camp and in the streets of Bouake. Similar unrest has been reported in Daloa in the west and Korhogo in the north. Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi said on Friday that the towns of Daoukro and Odienne were also affected, though he did not provide details.

In a statement Friday, Donwahi said the soldiers' demands include salary increases and a quicker promotion schedule.

Appearing on state television on Friday night, Donwahi said security officials would meet on Saturday with soldiers to try to end what he called a "deplorable" situation.

"We are convinced the situation will be settled quickly," he said, noting that no deaths had been reported.

Nevertheless, the unrest points to lingering security worries in Ivory Coast, which boasts Africa's fastest-growing economy and is eager to move past its history of conflict.

Bouake was the rebel capital when a civil war split the country in half from 2002 to 2007.

In more recent unrest, at least 3 000 people died in violence after president Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office after losing the 2010 election. Ouattara assumed office in 2011 and won re-election in 2015.

Read more on:    laurent gbagbo  |  ivory coast  |  west africa

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