Gbagbo's allies behind string of Ivory Coast attacks: minister

Abidjan - A group of people allied to Ivory Coast's former leader Laurent Gbagbo are behind a wave of recent attacks on police posts, the interior minister said on Thursday.

Thirty-five people have been arrested over the violence, which is being led by two men who are already in exile, Interior Minister Sidiki Diakite said after a meeting of the National Security Council.

"These attacks are part of a project of destabilisation notably involving political leaders both inside and outside the country," the minister said, according to a statement.

Ivory Coast has been shaken by army mutinies, violent protests by former rebels and a spate of attacks on prisons and police stations this year.

Local media have also denounced rising instability in Abidjan by violent gangs of children known as "microbes" by Ivorians.

The former French colony suffered a decade-long civil war from 2002 to 2011, splitting the country in two.

Security 

The recent spate of attacks have raised fears over the country's long-term stability.

Four separate prison breaks have happened in the last month, including 98 prisoners who escaped last Sunday.

Forty-four of them have been recaptured, the minister said, adding that additional measures to reinforce security were being taken.

Gbagbo is on trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, but the prosecution has said the former Ivorian strongman still enjoys a strong network of support.

Gbagbo and his former militia leader, Charles Ble Goude, 45, have pleaded not guilty to four charges arising out of post-election violence.

At least 3 000 people died in the turmoil that swept Abidjan in the aftermath of the November 2010 presidential polls when Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat by bitter rival Alassane Ouattara.

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