Seven killed in Ivory Coast attacks

2012-09-21 18:01

Abidjan - At least three people were killed after armed men attacked three police stations late on Thursday in the south of Abidjan, the defence minister said, while a clash near the Ghana border left four dead.

Ivory Coast Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi travelled on Friday to the scene of the Abidjan attacks, which took place in the Port-Bouet district, and said that the three dead included a soldier, a civilian and an attacker.

"These were bandits who acted yesterday. All the weapons they took have been recovered. A passerby was killed by stray bullets, a passing soldier also lost his life and one of the attackers was killed," he told the press.

He added that another attack occurred late on Thursday in the town of Noe along the Ghana border, but did not provide other details, except to say he saw no link between the incidents.

"Four attackers who came from Ghana were killed and five people were arrested in the fighting" between the armed men and security forces, a security source told AFP later, adding that the situation was under control.

"Shots were first fired in Noe at around 03:00 in the morning. The residents are frightened, the border with Ghana has been closed," the source also said.

An earlier raid had been repulsed late on Wednesday by security forces, the source said.

On Friday, an AFP photographer at the scene of the Abidjan attacks reported seeing the lifeless body of a man dressed in civilian clothes lying on the edge of the street.

At least one person suspected of participating in the attacks was arrested, according to a security source, as the forces set up checkpoints nearby to search vehicles.

The attacks, targeting two police stations and a post of the paramilitary gendarmerie, were the first in a month following a wave of violence in August against the forces.

Ivory Coast, the world's largest cocoa producer and previously seen as one of Africa's most stable states, descended into crisis after 2010 elections.

Fighting broke out after strongman Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down in favour of his long-time rival and current President Alassane Ouattara, who was declared the election's winner.

Five months of unrest followed before Gbagbo was eventually arrested after forces loyal to Ouattara stormed his heavily fortified home with French and UN military backing.

The United Nations said about 3 000 people died in the violence.