Mutineer soldiers free Ivory Coast defence minister

Map of Ivory Coast. (iStock)
Map of Ivory Coast. (iStock)

Bouak - Ivory Coast Defence Minister Alain Richard Donwahi was released late on Saturday after two hours of detention by mutinous soldiers and has left the city where he was being held, an AFP photographer said.

"Open the doors, they're coming out," a soldier shouted before Donwahi and his team left local government offices in Ivory Coast's second city Bouake, where they had been negotiating a deal to end a two-day mutiny over salaries that has spread to other towns including the economic capital Abidjan.

Donwahi and his aides went directly to the local airport and their plane "took off straight away", the photographer said, adding that neither the minister nor the mutineers made any comments.

The defence minister had flown into Bouake earlier on Saturday in a bid to defuse the crisis sparked by soldiers taking to the streets demanding bonuses, pay rises, housing and faster promotion.

President Alassane Ouattara had earlier in the evening announced that a deal had been reached between the two sides after Donwahi met with a delegation of mutineers.

But shortly afterwards, angry soldiers rejected the terms of the deal, firing Kalashnikov rifles and heavy weapons outside the offices where the talks were taking place to block the minister and his team from leaving.

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