Gbagbo mob kidnaps UN staff, then releases them

2011-03-01 07:31

ABIDJAN – Youths loyal to Ivory Coast incumbent Laurent Gbagbo kidnapped two Ukranian mechanics working for the United Nations mission yesterday morning but released them later in the afternoon, a spokesperson said.

The abductions follow a call on Friday by the leader of Gbagbo’s Young Patriots Ble Goude to set up roadblocks and prevent the movements of UN staff, as violence surged between gunmen loyal to Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara.

A week of clashes has left parts of Abidjan in the hands pro-Ouattara insurgents and fighting has also erupted in the west.
Gbagbo is furious with the United Nations mission for recognising Ouattara’s victory over him in a November election and has accused them of backing rebels trying to oust him – a charge UN officials denounce as a lie meant to discredit them.

His “Young Patriots” – often violent youth supporters who have wreaked havoc in Abidjan and other towns – have set up roadblocks to search vehicles of suspected “rebels”.

“Yes they were kidnapped this morning. They were released this afternoon,” said UN spokesperson Kenneth Blackman.

“I don’t think they were hurt.”

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