Ivorian soldiers shoot at residents to avert protests

Ivorian soldiers shoot at residents to avert protests

Date: 14 May 2017 10:41

BOUAKE, Cote d’Ivoire

Renegade soldiers wounded six people in Ivory Coast’s second-largest city as they fired in the air to keep people in their homes.

A mother of three children and five men were taken to hospital in the central city of Bouake after being shot by the rebels, who took to the streets on Friday in a protest over bonuses.

The soldiers had shot and wounded a person on Saturday as they blocked access to the city, while another person was injured by soldiers rebelling in Korhogo, the main city in the country’s north.

Defiant soldiers have also rebelled in the central city of Daloa.

On Sunday, rebel soldiers in Bouake took up positions in a square in front of the police headquarters, firing into the air to prevent residents gathering for a protest against the rebels’ actions.

SHOOTING CONTINUES

“The shooting continues. The mutineers aren’t letting people leave their homes to demonstrate,” said a resident who requested anonymity.

“There’s too much shooting this morning and it’s practically impossible to go for mass. I’ll pray with my family at home,” another resident, Jean Yves Kobena, said.

The soldiers posted at the four main access points to Bouake have also been extorting money from drivers hoping to cross the city, stopping most traffic in and out of Bouake.

Soldiers also rebelled in the economic capital of Abidjan on Friday, surrounding military headquarters before being driven back by loyalist forces.

Bouake was the epicentre of a mutiny in January by former rebel soldiers integrated into the national army.

MILITARY COMANDERS

Negotiations on Saturday between the rebels and military commanders in Bouake failed to end the blockade of the city, and rebels warned they would fight back if the army attempted to intervene.

“They can send whoever they want. We’re ready,” one of the several masked soldiers at one checkpoint told journalists on Saturday.

The January mutiny saw the government promise to pay every soldier 12 million CFA francs (about $16,400), with an initial payment of five million francs that month.
The remainder was to be paid from this month, according to rebel sources.

Many of the soldiers participated in the 2002 uprising aimed at bolstering support for President Alassane Ouattara against Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept his electoral defeat.

The rebels controlled the northern half of Cote d’Ivoire until 2011, and were later integrated into the army.

On Thursday, a soldier presented as a spokesman for 8,400 former rebels said in a televised ceremony that they wished to apologise to President Ouattara for the mutiny.


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