Ghana arrests 43 Ivorian 'ex-combatants'

2012-10-15 19:58

Accra - Ghana has arrested 43 Ivorians at a refugee camp who were suspected of previously fighting on behalf of the fallen Ivory Coast government of Laurent Gbagbo, an official and security source said on Monday.

Thousands of supporters of Gbagbo fled to Ghana during last year's deadly electoral crisis. The United Nations recently charged that some were using Ghana as a base to unseat the current Ivorian government.

"The security forces on Saturday undertook an exercise to restore the civilian character of the camp. Some Ivorians were arrested but those arrested are being screened," said chairperson of the Ghana Refugee Board Ken Dzirisah.

He said the raid on the refugee camp near Tarkoradi, a coastal area not far from the border, was aimed at flushing out those who previously fought against Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara.


"We have realised that some ex-combatants have infiltrated the camp," he said.

A security official who asked not to be named said 43 people were arrested during the raid.

Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama has vowed to not let his country be used by those trying to destabilise another nation.

Ivorian officials have said that gunmen who came from Ghanaian territory attacked the Noe border town last month, with some escaping back into Ghana after the raid.

Accra has also claimed the arrest of at least three people caught in possession of arms who were suspected of working to oust Ouattara's government.

A series of bloody attacks was carried out in August against security forces in Ivory Coast, heightening tensions after the end of a post-electoral crisis in 2010-2011, which claimed around 3 000 lives.


Meanwhile, Ivory Coast Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi said on Monday gunmen attacked a power plant overnight in Abidjan, while police came under attack at Bonoua, further east.

Tens of thousands of weapons are also believed to be in circulation since the end of the crisis, among pro-Gbagbo combatants as well as former New Forces rebel group, which has supported Ouattara.

The instability has led to a continued flow of refugees into Ghana.

The December 2010 - April 2011 crisis followed Gbagbo's refusal to concede defeat to Ouattara. The former strongman is being detained at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, awaiting a crimes against humanity trial.

His spokesperson, Justin Kone Katinan, has been arrested in Accra on charges of murder and economic crimes in his home country and is due in court for his extradition case on Tuesday.