Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Heavy gunfire erupts in Ivory Coast's two main cities

Heavy gunfire erupts in Ivory Coast's two main cities

I heard the shooting.

The armed forces chief of staff, General Sekou Toure, said in a statement Sunday that "a military operation is underway to re-establish order" and made a televised appeal to the disgruntled soldiers to return to barracks.

An Abidjan resident said mutinying soldiers came out of the West African nation's largest military camp and erected barricades early on Monday, blocking traffic along one of the main thoroughfares in the east of the city.

In Bouake, soldiers broke up a gathering of young people, injuring four, said Charles Gnaore, a lawmaker for the town from the ruling Rally of the Republicans party.

As NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports, the friction dates back to January, when the former rebel soldiers who helped propel Ouattara to power in 2011 mutinied over their delayed back pay.

There's been heavy gunfire in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast where troops have been staging a mutiny.

"The population rose up, but the mutineers quickly dispersed the march with shots", said Bouake resident Simon Guede.

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The death of the Palestinian led to clashes between dozens of local youth and Israeli soldiers, who also closed Huwwara road. An Israeli police officer and soldier also sustained injuries as protesters hurled stones at security forces.

The mutiny will carry on for as long as the government fails to pay the agreed bonuses, soldiers Fousseni Cisse and Tahirou Diarrassouba said in separate calls from a checkpoint at the southern entrance to Bouake, the second-biggest city and center of the mutiny. "But we want 7m to be paid in one payment and immediately", Sergeant Seydou Kone, one of the spokesmen, told Reuters news agency.

They first launched a munity in January and forced the government to pay them about $8,000 (£6,200) each in bonuses which they said was owed to them. One man, a demobilized former rebel fighter, died on Sunday.

But it remains divided and a wave of mutinies that began earlier this year has exposed the lack of unity in a military assembled from former rebel and loyalist combatants.

One person was killed on Sunday when the mutinous soldiers used guns to disperse residents protesting their violence in Bouake.

The soldiers, majority former rebels, were promised 12 million CFA francs ($19,875) in bonuses by the government for backing Ouattara after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept an election defeat in 2010, but they have received less than half of the cash.

They were due to receive a further payment this month and several thousand mutineers were unhappy they were not consulted when on Thursday, a spokesman for the group said they would drop their demands for the remaining money.

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